Posted by: Matthew Molinari | March 21, 2011

New Product Team Leaders (Blog #8)

Of all of the strategies that new product leaders should demonstrate, there are several that stick out to me. I think they make the most sense because they aren’t just limited to managers in charge of new product development. It seems like any real good management strategy should cross boundaries and be applicable to all types of managers.

It’s really important to realize that a lack of information can hurt your department and if you multiply that across the company you see how it starts to be detrimental to the company overall. In one way that could relate to the fact that people don’t have information that clearly defined roles, but although that can definitely be a problem, it can also mean that employees become too territorial of those roles.

In a lot of instances, employees become so focused on what MY job responsibilities are that they refuse to allow anyone else get close to them. This prevents new ideas from being shared and stifles new progress from being made. It seems like that it is important to have defined roles but also make it clear that it is just as important for employees to go outside the lines and work with other people and stress that this will foster growth.

This works into a second strategy the makes the employee responsible for their own actions. If, as a manager, you lay out your goals and expectations for what the department should be working towards, employees should be able to make a lot of the smaller decisions on their own. This works in two ways. For the employee, they feel empowered and don’t get the impression that you are micromanaging them. An employee who feels like the management trusts them to make decisions will be more likely to feel satisfied with the work they are doing.

Secondly, the manager is freed up from being involved in smaller problems within the department. By encouraging the employees to take responsibility for their problems, the manger doesn’t have a line out the door of employees looking for help. Much like the engineers who learned to check with the manufacturers when developing new products, employees will learn to work out problems on their own, or with other employees.

This allows the manager the time to focus on the big picture, not having to spend time micromanaging each employee, and can, as it was put, protect the employees from the sea gulls. As a leader, the manger is responsible for shielding the employees from information overload so they can get real work done.

As a manager, I’ve noticed that I am starting to spend more time in meetings and less time working at my desk. But at the same time, this allows me to summarize a 2 hour meeting into 5 minutes for my employees so they can get work done to meet the goals I’ve set for the department.


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