A few days back I wrote about ‘the pipe‘ and I called for all of us to practice not being a pipe. But there wasn’t so much clarity on what that really mean. We could think about the usual exhortations like ‘Don’t micromanage’, ‘Coach people’, ‘Troubleshoot problems and not people’. But I think it would be really helpful to study some of the work that came out of Google’s Project Oxygen. Some of the detailed guides and tools can be found here.
As a coach myself, I found some of the advice there to be rather useful, such as a quick reference guide on the GROW model. They even provided templates on 1:1 meeting agendas for you to prepare and think about how to use those sessions productively.
More often than not, an organisation’s culture and system is vital to prevent an over-development of plumbing in the organisation. When there’s too many layers of hierarchy than is operationally necessary, there’s efficiency in redeploying manpower. When you find yourself unable to locate and directly reach out to the frontline in charge of client-interactions, then the culture may be stifling or knowledge management is not being done right. The organisation itself needs to realign incentives so that being just a pipe will not genuinely get you far in the system. The issue with pipes is that, they actually can get far ahead in many large bureaucratic organisations.
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