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An abridged version of this article was first published in The Australian newspaper on 4 October 2019.

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Management Tip (9) – Let People Do Whatever They Like!!

January 12, 2018

Have fun at work!

 

If you are not having fun at work…why not?! Life’s too short to be miserable for one third of it.

 

People like to do different things. So, that’s good – it would be tricky if we all liked doing the same thing.

 

I always try to let staff do what they like to do because it helps make them more satisfied. Often people are also good at what they like to do. Maybe they have become good at it because they like doing it, or perhaps, they were always good at it and just enjoy doing something they are good at.

 

Let the person who enjoys doing the data, do the data stuff. Let the person who enjoys writing letters, write letters. Let the person who likes doing the strategic thinking think strategically. As far as reasonably practicable.

 

I like to hear the occasional laugh in the office, overhear some friendly banter – makes the workplace a happier place.

 

Back in the early 1990’s during my days in the UK Civil Aviation Authority I was asked to form a new section called “Projects”. This was a loose term to cover a multitude of tasks. Some were, indeed, projects but many were all sorts of other strategic and ad hoc bits and pieces.

 

The new team sat down together and we considered what was on offer that needed to be done. We discussed what we each would like to do, picked all the stuff we liked and wrote a scoping document for the new Projects Section – it had in it as much of the stuff we thought we could grab and as little of the stuff we didn’t like as we reasonably thought senior management would agree to. It didn’t work out perfectly and I had to haggle with senior management but it worked out well.

 

One chap was the Quality Manager, so he picked the project to establish a Quality Management System. The two engineering inspectors set up the system for auditing air navigation service providers’ Safety Management Systems which hadn’t even been established at the time.

 

We took for ourselves the role of technical expert for the CAA’s international consultancy arm. When they needed CNS/ATM experts for contracted work overseas they came to us. As the only air traffic controller, I went on CAA business to Ghana, Mauritius, Finland and the Caribbean amongst other places. I liked to travel so it was great fun!

 

And that’s my point, if I could let people do the things they liked to do I got a better response and better output.  It was good for them, good for me, good for industry as they had an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and committed inspector to deal with which meant it was good for the CAA too. Good all round.

 

However - a big However - obviously, all the work must be done to a satisfactory standard. That means that, sometimes, a person will have to do something they don't like doing. That's life. Sometimes we all have to do things that we don’t like – well, suck it up, Buttercup!!

 

But if I can let people do what they like doing as much as possible – all the better.

 

If you are not having fun at work...ask yourself…are you in the right job?

 

 

 

This article is just my view of the topic at title. Like a lot of people, I’ve done some training in management techniques but there is no substitute for experience. In my case, a bit of trial and error, learning from my mistakes, watching other managers and a little common sense. I hope you found it of interest and assistance. 

 

 

Peter Cromarty

 

 

Peter Cromarty is a former air traffic controller and pilot. He spent 27 years as a safety regulator of ATM/CNS, airspace and aerodromes.

View his Linked In profile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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