The Business Improvement Network

Double employee productivity by "Multiplying" the talent in your organisation

By Duncan Ward

Duncan Ward

Double employee productivity by “Multiplying” the talent in your organisation

In this article Duncan Ward challenges organisations to fully leverage the untapped potential of their employees; “Multiplying” talent, rather than “Diminishing” this most valuable resource

Given the challenges that companies face to survive, let alone improve business, accessing the greatest resource you have has never been more important.

Management style hugely impacts the productivity and retention of employees

The best managers “Multiply” the talent in their organisation, whereas lessor managers “Diminish” the very same talent. A “Multiplier” leader can achieve twice the productivity of a “Diminisher”. 
Competition for employees, particularly for the skilled and talented ones has become red hot in recent years and is likely to remain so into the foreseeable future.

It’s critical to leverage the sum of all employee talent, having them fully engaged and motivated, with a clear progression path.  Managing teams with a “Multiplier” style creates a culture of broad-based inclusion, accountability and growth.

The alternative management styles of “Micky Multiplier” and “Danny Diminisher”
Micky and Danny may remind you of current or past colleagues, or even yourself! 
The Leadership traits exhibited by Micky and Danny have a fundamental impact on their respective organisations’ productivity and staff engagement.

The Investor vs the Micromanager
Micky Multiplier gets the most from employees by encouraging them to do their best work. Spending time to understand their true talents and investing in those areas through coaching and mentoring. Engaging employees in activities and tasks outside of their core competence or job title.
In contrast Danny Diminisher micromanages; hovering over employees to ensure everything is just so, checking in all the time.  Each conversation with Danny involves instruction and advice. Employees have direction but no autonomy, or latitude to learn and develop.

The Challenger vs the Dictator
Micky Multiplier challenges employees to go beyond, setting stretch goals, helping them think how things could be done better and more efficiently. Rather than being intimidated, most employees will relish the opportunity to push themselves, learn and move beyond their core competence.
Danny Diminisher has all the ideas and dictates all the decisions for the team, or with the counsel of an inner quorum. Even if the idea is good, acting opaquely creates resentment.  The ideas and experience of the team are not utilised, their contribution is seen as not needed and they disengage.

The Debater vs The Know it All
Micky Multiplier actively seeks input from employees whilst challenging their views with facts and reality, creating intentional and constructive debate.  Rather than directing decisions Micky uses the team’s collective intellect and experience to flush out the best decisions from all the inputs available.  
Danny Diminisher is something of a “know it all”, experienced and proud of past achievements, imparting “the knowledge” onto the team.  Danny does most of the talking in meetings and directs employees to do it tried and tested way, because that’s how it’s always been done.

The Efficient Delegator vs the Empire Builder
Micky Multiplier empowers the team by trusting them to take ownership and be accountable, accepting that some missteps are part of the learning process.  This gives employees the confidence to make decisions and innovate efficient working practices, resulting in a lean optimised operation.
Danny Diminisher is an Empire Builder, with the network to identify and hire talent, always seeking to grow the team. But once hired, the talent is not fully utilised, stretched or developed.  Danny’s star employees are feted with important job titles but become disenchanted and move on.

Shining the Light vs Basking in the limelight
Micky Multiplier is a talent magnet; employees want to come and work with Micky because they see the opportunity to learn and grow.  Micky shines all the light on his team, encouraging them to aim higher and become more than they realised they could be.
Danny Diminisher enjoys the limelight and receiving recognition for the team’s success, whilst deflecting blame for shortcomings, often onto his own team.  Employees see Danny taking the glory for their efforts and become resentful. Danny gets rewarded and his team become demoralised.

“Accidental Diminishers”
Not all “Diminishers” are as clear cut as Danny Diminisher.  More commonly they are “Accidental Diminishers”, believing they are managing constructively, whilst diminishing their team unwittingly by:
•    Answering questions without giving employees the chance to think it through
•    Using up all the oxygen in team meetings, too much broadcast, not enough receive
•    Responding on behalf of the team before they have a chance to think and respond
•    Constantly floating new ideas without directing the team to act on them or not 
•    Shielding the team from the realities of the organisation or market conditions
•    Setting a pace the team can’t follow, so they stop trying

Many of these “leadership traits” may seem quite natural and reasonable but done consistently they prevent employees from taking the initiative, being accountable, and growing into capable leaders themselves.  

We all have Diminisher tendencies, the key is to become aware of them, regularly seeking employee feedback and consciously working on becoming more of a “Multiplier”, consistently over time. It’s a continuum that never ends, we can always be better.

Liz Wiseman’s bestselling book “Multipliers” extensively explores this topic, including studies on leaders within hundreds of organisations.  Her group’s analysis concludes a “Multiplier” leader can achieve over twice the productivity of a “Diminisher” leader.

By creating a “Multiplier” management culture, the benefits will soon be evident in the form of improved employee engagement and will compound into increased productivity over time.

About the author

Duncan Ward attended the “University of Life” spending his formative years “studying” the luxury yacht and winter sport industries. Duncan has since spent the past 25 years working in “Big Tech”, leading client and account teams to create complex, high value solutions for Corporate and Government clients. In that time, he’s witnessed the best and the worst of what leadership has to offer!

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