Knowing and Doing: Closing the Gap

Who comes first: you, your team, or your organization?

Identified by CIPD research in 2013, the "knowing and doing" gap plows on relentlessly.

Managers still do not receive sufficient training for their role. Many still do not know how to conduct effective supervision of their team members. When faced with tough choices, invariably the organization comes first, occasionally to the detriment of their team members.

That approach damages important relationships that could have otherwise driven higher performance work. It also raises questions about the importance that managers – and their organizations – attach to the well-being of staff. My current work reinforces my belief that things have not improved greatly.

What is the current state of leadership and management?

I believe that bad leadership and management is tolerated to a shocking degree. I have experienced it firsthand for over forty years, and some of my current clients are experiencing it right now!

The "knowing and doing" gap occurs because organizations fail to respond to or act upon feedback about poor managers. Also, many believe that individuals are promoted into managerial roles through the Peter Principle, or because of their performance record, rather than their people management or leadership skills. So, why do we still do that?

Are your staff truly your greatest resource?

My experience tells me that organizations trot out the mantra, "our staff are our greatest resource." However, more time and money is spent addressing issues of systems, protocols, and procedures, rather than investing in the greatest resource – the people who make things happen!

Let's take effective supervision as a case in point.

In my leadership career, the effective supervision of staff has always been a consistent practice. Regular supervision reinvigorates their focus, brings clarity to their role and contribution, and enables meaningful dialogue about what I might do to support them in their everyday work. Through it, I developed far more effective relationships, empowered and enabled more staff, by being supportive in this way, which I complemented by "walking the job."

Leading by example – a personal case study

For example, on a recent interim assignment, staff were astonished, in response to a need for staff cover of a particular delivery session, when I stepped into the role. “But you’re management!” one member of staff squeaked, in a somewhat startled voice. “That’s right,” I replied. “I can do this role and I do not want to let down our customers by canceling the session!” In one powerful example, I closed the "knowing and doing" gap, and reminded staff that we were in this situation together, and that I was capable of both knowing and doing!

A simple but powerful lesson ensued, and my "street credibility" with the team grew greatly. I went on to build upon that moment by regular visits to the team in their workplaces. I engaged staff and customers in conversation, and learned from those encounters. Those lessons helped me turn that intelligence into better practice.

So, what might you do to be more effective?

If you can complement such an approach as described above with regular, consistent, effective coaching, that would be brilliant. Your staff will feel more valued, engaged, supported, and better able to build their own self-confidence, knowledge, and understanding of their own capabilities. They will also have a better understanding of where their contribution makes an impact for the organization as a whole.

What better way to avoid leadership problems and cultural crises in your organization?

So, if you are encountering poor support in your organization, or you’d like to better support your team in the absence of any other support organizationally, you might like to contact me to discuss how you might serve your team and your organization better.

I am always happy to listen and ready to help.

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