High Output Management (1995) is your perfect guide for making high-quality managerial decisions, inspiring employees for consistent performance, and most importantly, understanding one’s role as a manager. This book addresses questions such as – 

  • How should the manager of a company learn skills to achieve success? 
  • How to gather the skills necessary to successfully manage a business? 
  • What are the mantras for inspiring team members to enhance their performance consistently?

1. Understanding the Dynamics of the Business

Managers face a daunting task. They must make the right managerial decisions, work towards successfully achieving goals, derive profits, and at the same, time keep their team motivated to perform consistently. 

However, most managers do not know that having a sound understanding of the business takes precedence over everything else. The business is a response to market demands that are met by your product, keeping in mind 

  • timely delivery within a given schedule, 
  • good product or service quality and, 
  • low costs of production. 
High Output Management by Andy Grove

The key facets of understanding the business process are

  • Knowing which is the most important step in their production cycle.
  • Identifying where the pressure points of the business are.
  • Knowing where and when to pull in all resources. 
  • Identifying bottlenecks and providing solutions
  • Understanding effective ways of managing peripheral administrative jobs such as hiring people, managing inventory, etc.

Most importantly, managers must complete all the above tasks in a timely and cost-effective manner while keeping an eye on production indicators.

2. Knowing the Performance Indicators

Keeping an eye out for performance indicators (or key metrics) daily is an important step for all managers. These indicators could be

  • Getting a sales forecast update daily
  • Getting daily inventory levels vis-a-vis the sales forecast
  • Knowing the condition of equipment and being up to date on its functioning
  • Getting a daily update on the team 
  • Having a quality indicator, such as customer or client feedback

A manager must extract the correct information from these indicators and know how to use them.  These production indicators are interrelated and can be used to examine trends and evaluate the need for any change.

3. Managing Relationships with the Team

Collecting information and sharing it with the team using performance indicators is one of the key responsibilities of a manager. This can be done by establishing a good relationship with the team via reports and regular informal conversations. 

Informal conversations help in building a good relationship, gather necessary information, and understand the general mood of individual members of the team. At the same time, ensuring proper reports are delivered and duties are performed on time helps a team member build discipline, comprehend tasks better, and reflect on the work done.

Building positive and lasting relationships with team members entail supporting the team members to achieve their goals. Furthermore, a good manager should be a role model, helping the team imbibe good organizational values. This guides the whole team toward success. 

4. Meetings are Essential for Good Management

Meetings are a necessary medium for managers to conduct all management duties. They can be of two types :-

  • Process-oriented meetings – Process-oriented meetings aim at general discussions surrounding the workings of the team. They are held regularly for the team to catch-up on how the team is doing their job, and if there is anything that can be improved. One-on-one meetings are a classic example of process-oriented meetings.
  • Mission-oriented meetings – Mission-oriented meetings are goal specific and are used to finalize decisions. For example, emergency meetings held to discuss sudden changes in plans.

Successful managers understand meetings are great tools and use them wisely. They eliminate unnecessary meetings and use meetings to serve the business.

5. Understand Human Motivation

Motivation is the key to modern management. A manager must assess if members of the team are lacking in skill, or simply lack the motivation to perform. With the rise in knowledge work and cognitive roles compared to labor-oriented roles in the work environment, it is the responsibility of managers to ensure that tasks are allotted based on the skill of the team member. Additionally, the manager is also responsible to ensure that all members of the team are motivated enough to succeed.

Therefore, a manager should understand the differences between competency-driven and achievement-driven employees and be able to identify them. 

  • Competence-driven Employees – Such employees find their motivation in competence-driven tasks that help them expand their own skills and knowledge. A manager should help such employees focus on producing tangible results and not only focus on personal skill development.
  • Achievement-driven Employees – These employees are motivated by achieving success. Managers should be able to use their drive for achievement so that they can align their personal success with that of the team.

6. Importance of Feedback and Support

An employee is usually motivated with rewards and recognition. Additionally, they need feedback and support from their managers too. While monetary rewards motivate employees to achieve a goal of reaching and maintaining a good standard of living, employees need other meaningful and relevant intrinsic rewards to keep performing.

Regular support and encouragement via regular feedback can do wonders for all types of employees. Managers should help team members to set new goals and remain motivated to consistently achieve them.

7. The Importance of Coaching

Abraham Maslow’s idea of self-actualization sheds light on the concept of what drives people towards consistent achievement. People need challenges to consistently reach their own potential. The need to find their point of self-actualization to take on challenging tasks and achieve success. 

Therefore, a manager is also responsible for providing team members with an environment where they can reach these goals. A manager must play the role of a coach and know how to grow people to take on bigger and bigger challenges while ensuring their growth and development at the same time.

However, a manager, like a sports coach, should also be wary of unhealthy competitiveness within a team that can backfire on the performance of the team. 

8. Finding Your Management Style

Managing a team is a dynamic process, with an ever-increasing rate of change we face in the world today. Managers must alter and change the way manage based on their learnings from trial and error to find out which style works best in their current situation.

TRM – Task Relevant Maturity

TRM is a variable that gives indications of which style of management could work for a given situation. It measures an employee’s ability to perform tasks by ranking an employee based on their education, training, and experience with their tendencies towards responsibilities and achievement.

For example, if an employee ranks low on TRM for a task, the manager should layout clear and detailed instructions, while hand-holding the employee to succeed. As the employee gains experience, the manager can reduce their involvement and keep monitoring the progress.

Conclusion

Achieving successful managerial skills is a continuous and dynamic process. It entails finding the right management styles, assuming the role of a coach, and using appropriate tools of motivation keeping in mind what the end goal for the organization is. It is a multi-faceted role that needs understanding the business processes, applying various management styles that are relevant to those processes and knowing when to shift between different management styles.