A common challenge CEO’s have is finding and growing middle managers. While that’s true in most growing enterprises, it’s notably hard for CEO’s who started their companies without having any experience at developing managers. Oh, they’ve hired producers — individual contributors for specific jobs; the more frequent kind of hires, but not process managers.
During yesterday’s triage workshop with a terrific company, Redemption Plus, one of the triagers primary jobs was fulfilling customer orders in the warehouse. Pull and order, assign it to a warehouse person, pick and pack the order and ship it out (to oversimplify the process). Hundreds of times a day. What made this triage unique was the appearance of a triager — a front line producer / process task expert, who was ripe for a manager opportunity.
Some background first: Leaders must be able to sing in three voices to lead high performing processes (summary here), the Executive, the Process Manager, and the Producer. The heavy lifting work in the Process Triage Decision Cycle is borne by the Producer; they define the process, observe its Points-of-Pain that inhibit its ability to perform, and nominate the solutions to these pain points. The Process Manager bundles the constantly refreshing list of improvement solutions into a rolling 90+ day plan and brings discipline and oversight to that scarce, but highly leveraged Working ON it, not IN it (as Michael Gerber coined it) space.
Facilitating a team through a series of tasks is managing, albeit a microcosm of it. So to confirm my suspicion, I invited this triager to assist me in leading the triage team through one of the tasks — one he had observed a previous triage team perform.
And you know it with you see it.
And we saw it.
He can do it — it’s just so obvious.
So now we pile on and invite him to write the first draft of this triage’s 90+ Day Process Capability Improvement Plan.
- Confirm a candidate managers’s potential by having them host (i.e. project manage) a ProcessTriage immersion workshop.
- When conducting an immersion workshop, look for producers (the triagers) who can sing process manager notes pitch-perfectly.