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Manager’s Checkup: Your goal–fantasy or reality?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Consultant and author Gerald Kraines, M.D., discusses the differences he sees between companies and leaders that "manage for reality" and those who lead their teams according to fashionable management "fantasies." Which group do you fall in? Take the following quiz and find out:

1. Which of the following best describes you?:

a. I want my people to do what I expect them to—and vice versa.

b. I want my people to give 110 percent—or more—to move the enterprise forward.

c. I want people to feel empowered to devote their best talents to the enterprise.

d. I want people to do what the enterprise needs done, without excuses.

2 I aim to motivate my people by:

a. Making them proud to work on this team.

b. Building excitement for what we can achieve.

c. Giving them freedom to do their best.

d. Putting their own survival at stake.

3. When I appraise my people, I try to focus on:

a. How effective their efforts were for the team.

b. How well their performance met—or exceeded—our goals.

c. How much effort they put into the task.

d. How much work they did and what outputs resulted.

4. Which best describes your team's goal setting?:

a. We plan for success, but we're realistic.

b. We shoot for the moon and aim to stretch ourselves to get there.

c. We want goals that match what the team members can offer.

d. We set minimum targets that team members must achieve or else.

5. I think we work together as a team:

a. Well enough in all circumstances.

b. Well enough when we need to.

c. Well enough when the right people are on the team.

d. Probably not well, but it doesn't really matter to us.

What do your answers mean?

For each item, the answers match up with Kraines' categories as follows:

a. Congratulations! This is what Kraines calls "managing for reality"—a culture based on honest commitments and the proper alignment of accountability and authority.

b. This fantasy is what Kraines calls a "superstretch system." It rewards virtuoso performance and relies on excitement and employees' sense of personal responsibility. But workers don't really have the authority to ensure they can actually meet these goals, so "getting results ... usually comes out of peoples' hide."

c. This is the opposite—the "empowerment" fantasy where workers are given power and authority over their own goals and expectations and not typically held accountable. Like in superstretch systems, there's no mutual, reciprocal commitment between teams and leaders to attain agreed-upon objectives.

d. This "no excuses" approach tends to turn employees into contractors that care more about safeguarding their own future than about the future of the enterprise. Leaders who resort to this approach, says Kraines, have "no clear understanding of the true nature of accountability."

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