Know or Don’t Know

After many decades in the business world, I couldn’t help but form some ideas about people management. So I come away with the conclusion that almost everyone wants to do well and that the job of management is solely about enabling people to perform their best. Remembering that particular sentence is perhaps the hardest part of the whole process.

There is a wonderful book written more than a half-century ago called  Management of Organizational Behavior[i]Not to be confused with some of his later works, which are probably equally good. by Paul Hersey, where he discusses the use of what he calls “TASK”[ii]TASK = detailed directions on the definition of the job, and instructions regarding how to go about accomplishing it. and “RELATIONSHIP”[iii]RELATIONSHIP = showing confidence in, and encouragement of the subordinate, on a personal level. across a continuum of “MATURITY”[iv]MATURITY = the person’s innate abilities and skills needed to accomplish the task at hand. as a management style. I like to reduce that into this simple matrix. The point of it is that we all have limited time and we need to invest that where it is most productive. People in three of the four corners of my matrix are potentially very productive, and the remaining one can absorb all of your time and never yield a good result.

There are those who
"Know &
Know They Know"

They are a pleasure to work with, and will account for the vast majority of the progress.

  • They need no TASK
  • They need no RELATIONSHIP
  • They are amazed by all the things the world is yet to discover.
  • Carefully explain the goal to them
  • Give them the tools they need
  • ... and get out of their way.

There are those who
"Know &
Don't Know They Know"

With the proper guidance, they can become among the most productive over time.

  • They need careful TASK
  • They need RELATIONSHIP because they lack confidence.
  • They learn fast with the proper guidance.

There are those who
"Don't Know &
Know They Don't Know"

They become a source of personal satisfaction for the manager because they are usually eager to learn.

  • They need TASK to get started.
  • They often need RELATIONSHIP because they usually lack self-confidence.
  • With time and patience, they can become the most productive of all.

There are those who
"Don't Know &
Don't Know They Don't Know"

They will consume most of your time and never become productive.

  • They need TASK, but don't follow it.
  • They don't benefit from RELATIONSHIP because they already know everything.
  • They are more likely to be amazed by things the world knows, rather than what is left to be discovered.
  • They can become problematic by distracting others from their work..
  • They most often cannot be helped and should be removed.

footnotes
footnotes
i Not to be confused with some of his later works, which are probably equally good.
ii TASK = detailed directions on the definition of the job, and instructions regarding how to go about accomplishing it.
iii RELATIONSHIP = showing confidence in, and encouragement of the subordinate, on a personal level.
iv MATURITY = the person’s innate abilities and skills needed to accomplish the task at hand.