Managing through interruptions


Henry Mintzberg is one of the blog’s favourite management gurus. The reason is that he understands the constraints under which most managers operate. His view is that the best managers aren’t Superman or Superwoman, but “are simply ordinary, healthy people who aren’t too screwed up“.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he outlines the 3 ways in which managers make things happen:

Direct action.Sometimes managers manage actions directly. They fight fires. They manage projects. They negotiate contracts.”
Via other people.Managers build and motivate teams, and they enhance the culture and train them and do things to get people to take more effective actions.”
Via influence.Managers manage information to drive people to take action–through budgets and objectives and delegating tasks and designing organization structure.

Mintzberg’s view is that today, we “have much too much managing through information. It doesn’t take genius to say: Increase sales or out you go. That’s the worst of managing through information. The alternative is to give more attention to the people plane and the action plane. Even when you’re managing information, you can manage in a much more nuanced way than just shooting a bunch of figures around.”

Mintzberg’s new book, ‘Managing’ has one further tip for managers. In his view, interruptions are a major cause of failing to manage properly, and “email–and especially BlackBerries in the pocket and all that–really makes it much worse“.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. He also serves as a Global Expert for the World Economic Forum. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry and the global economy over the next 12 – 18 months. It looks behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in critical areas such as oil prices, China and Emerging Markets, currencies, autos, housing, economic growth and the environment. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.


One Response to Managing through interruptions

  1. Oliver Deleker 18 August, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    I think that is a very important statement here. I would like to add that a good manager checks frequently his performance and the perception others might have from him. Furthermore, he should find out whether he picked the truly important things to do.

    During these challenging times I think these aspects get increasing importance.

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