Aug 232012

The Best Place to Work, Part 5: Be the ultimate enabler

Fifth in my series on creating the best place to work – Being the best enabler.  As any management guru will tell you, as you have a larger and larger team, your job is much less about getting good work done than it is enabling others to get good work done.  What does that mean?

First, don’t be a bottleneck.  You don’t have to be an Inbox-Zero nut (but feel free if you’d like), but you do need to make sure you don’t have people in the company chronically waiting on you before they can take their next actions on projects.  Otherwise, you lose all the leverage you have in hiring a team.  Don’t let approvals or requests pile up!

Second, run great meetings.  Meetings are a company’s most expensive endeavor.  Sometime in a senior staff meeting, calculate the cost in salary of everyone sitting there for an hour or two!  Run good meetings yourself and don’t enable bad behavior…and in the course of doing that, role model the same for your senior staff members who do their own staff or team meetings.  Make sure your meetings are as short as possible, as actionable as possible, and as interesting as possible.  Don’t hold a meeting when an email or 5-minute recorded message will suffice.  Don’t hold a weekly standing meeting when it can be biweekly.  Cancel meetings if there’s nothing to cover.  End them early if you can’t fill the time productively.  Vary the tempo of your meetings to match their purpose – the same staff group can have a weekly with one agenda, a monthly with a different agenda, and a quarterly with a different agenda.

Finally, don’t run a hub-and-spoke system of communications.  Some managers who are a bit command-and-control like hoarding information or forcing all communication to go through them or surface in staff meetings.  No need for that!  Almost everyone on your team, if you are a senior manager, should have individual bilateral relationships and regular 1:1 meetings without you there.  The same goes for your Board and your staff, if you are the CEO.  They should have individual relationships that don’t go through you.  if you are a choke point for communication, it’s just as bad as being a bottleneck for approvals.

Enabling your team to give it their all is a gift to yourself and your organization as much as it is a gift to your team – give that gift early and often.


  • Erick Mott

    Good points, Matt. I especially like your observations and recommendations about hub and spoke communications.

  • Daniel Clough

    Nice post. The bottleneck one can creep up on you and when it does you have to be self aware enough to see it – it's always a sign of poor delegation or a lack of trust / confidence in management below you (often the cause of the poor delegation). It's completely unsustainable as it slows everything down and frustrates people who just want to get on and do things.

    Running effective meetings and in particular having a good schedule of meetings is so important, one of the most important things to running a tight ship in my opinion. They are a vehicle for decisions and communication and making sure your week is full of all the right types of meetings, with the right types of people at the right frequency is critical.

    I find that I need to re-group on almost a monthly basis to review all of the different types of meetings I have, who are in them and how frequent they are to keep them in good shape. I normally end up trimming some of the attendees, removing a few meetings and adding a few new meetings when I review things. Left unlooked at for too long, everything gets stale and unproductive.

    Good series so far Matt :)

    • Matt Blumberg

      Totally – I don’t regroup monthly, but certainly I do regularly.  I also keep a running list (in Excel, with conditional formatting) of everyone I want to be meeting with, with what frequency, and when our last meeting was.  That’s helpful, too.

  • Psychometric

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    • Matt Blumberg


  • Cezary Bartoszuk

    FYI the `best place to work -` link in the first sentence does not seem to work.

    • Matt Blumberg

      Thanks – will fix asap!

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