Mgr Intro

My Top 10 Practices for Leading And Motivating a Workforce

An executive with more than 30 years of experience offers some valuable insight into a very successful management philosophy.

When I was asked by Evaluation Engineering if I would like to write an article about how to best lead and motivate a large and diverse workforce, I humbly accepted the assignment. By sharing my own leadership style, I hope to provide other global managers with practical wisdom and ideas that they can use to increase their effectiveness.

Before we delve into my specific tips for leading and motivating employees, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible leadership and cultural legacy of the HP Way and the many great leaders who created and perpetuated it. It shaped my own leadership style and taught me much of what I know about how to manage others today. It is really this legacy that is reflected here, as interpreted by my own management experience over the course of 30+ years.

1. Strike a Balance
To be a great leader and manager, it is important to strike the right balance at all times among the three constituencies: customers, shareholders, and employees. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard did exactly that. They were strong, inspirational leaders that we all looked up to and wanted to emulate. In addition, they were extremely successful in business.

Regardless of Wall Street�s interest, Hewlett-Packard under Bill and Dave had very simple yet profound corporate objectives. The number one objective for them was profit. Number two was customers, three field of interest, four growth, five people, and so on. They had clarity of purpose and focused on those objectives. They made sure their employees understood the goals, so it was a clear path for us.

One of the toughest things we do as leaders is to try to make the right calls between investing for the future vs. making a profit now. I haven�t always made the right call. I�ve come to a personal conclusion that the best approach is to stay lean and mean and create fortified hills on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than have other groups within the company fund us. We can meet long-term goals by taking this disciplined approach.

2. Bring Your Industry to Life
It is imperative to run the business from an outside-in perspective. Be highly connected with your global customer base, workforce, and competitors. Make decisions that are grounded in a deep understanding of what�s going on in the customer base.

Bring the industry, competitors, and customers to life for your teams with regular updates on technology advancements, deal successes, and issues facing your customers. Not doing so is the kiss of death for an organization. A manager�s role is to vividly and continuously bring the real-life situation from both a competitor and a customer point of view.

3. Believe in Your Vision
Motivation begins with me. If I�m not clear about the vision or not enthusiastic, if I don�t genuinely believe in what we�re doing or don�t believe in the individuals, then my employees will pick up on that and become distracted and unmotivated. Remember, you�re a larger-than-life figure in the eyes of your employees. They are watching you more than you are managing them. The way you project yourself can have an adverse effect on everyone in the department.

For example, one manager I had many years ago pulled me aside one day and told me that people in my team were concerned because I was always scowling and rubbing my chin as I walked down the hall. I had merely been deep in thought, but my employees assumed I was concerned about the project I was managing. By consciously altering my body language and being more aware of those around me, I was able to better project my genuine belief in the business.

4. Create a Framework and Set Objectives
It is the role of the top company executives to set a corporate vision, define fields of interest, and set financial objectives. Then it is each manager�s job to translate these into manageable, actionable strategies to achieve the desired results.

Management by objective (MBO) is the methodology we have used at HP and Agilent Technologies for decades to get results while unleashing the talent and creativity of our employees. MBO consists of setting objectives and creating a framework for employees, empowering them and giving them the resources they need to succeed, and getting out of their way while managing overall execution to ensure results.

The first step is for each manager to understand and communicate to his or her employees the line of sight from the highest-level vision and objectives through the group-level purpose, direction, and objectives all the way down to the team project and individual objectives. The idea is for each individual to understand how his or her daily activities contribute to the company�s success (the framework) and be clear on what results they need to deliver by when (the objectives).

5. Empower People
Empower people from the beginning. We actively seek extraordinary people to be Agilent employees. Then we want to give them room to do what they do best.

Give employees the freedom to do their work as they see fit within the framework of objectives at a high enough level that it gives them direction without telling them how to meet those objectives. It is up to them to put those objectives to work within the framework. This style of management requires an inherent belief in people that they are highly motivated, bright, and want to do the right thing.

A manager�s role then becomes partnering with the employee to ensure they have the necessary skills, training, tools, and resources to achieve their objectives.

Interestingly, the biggest mistake I�ve seen managers make is to empower their employees too much; that is, not giving them enough direction or assigning them more work than they can do. I�ve found that if you give people too much to do and allow them to pick what actually gets done, they will do what they think is most important, what they enjoy doing the most, or what they are good at�not what the organization collectively should be working on. In a sense, we are relegating the strategy and company direction to the individual contributors and that won�t get the company the synergy and focus we need.

6. Look to Yourself First
If we find ourselves dealing with an unmotivated employee, my gut reaction is to assume that the fault lies with the environment we�ve created�with the management approach. If a project is late, it�s not necessarily because we have slow, lazy engineers. It�s much more likely because the employee�s manager has mismanaged the person or the project.

The manager probably failed to set the correct framework and priorities. I strongly believe it is the role of middle managers and above to set our priorities and decide what we need to focus on.

7. Accept Your Role
For those moving into middle- and upper-level management, give yourself the promotion you were granted. It is very tempting when becoming a middle manager to revert back to those things that you did well before you were promoted. This disempowers your people and renders you ineffective in your job.

If you move up to middle management and don�t consciously think about what you need to do differently, how you need to make that conscious shift, then you won�t be effective. Your subject-matter expertise will tempt you to grab the chalk and give them the answer rather than coach them to figure out an answer on their own.

8. Manage Execution
At Agilent, our culture is a familial, informal, and diverse environment. We talk to each other on a first-name basis and use informal language. All of this is positive.

The downside to this informal management approach is that sometimes people get the sense that it�s not urgent, that it�s okay to be relaxed about missing deadlines and let faults go. When this type of scenario arises, it�s important to immediately remind the employee that, while it�s wonderful to work in a casual, relaxed environment, it�s doubly important to remember that we do have a competitive business to run and must deliver on commitments.

9. Communicate Genuinely
It�s important to be authentic and genuine. That means fully listening to employee concerns, being onboard with their problems, and generally caring about them as people. Spend time getting involved with their work and understand what they�re doing. But don�t fall into the trap of doing their work for them. You want to support, not to get in the way of, people learning, growing, and increasing the value of their contributions.

The ability to communicate well is crucial to being a successful manager. You need to communicate across geographies and cultures. That means making yourself aware of cultural differences and learning how to bridge them.

To encourage an open dialogue with my entire team, I have created an internal Ask Jack website where any team member in the world can post their questions, comments, and concerns. I respond to the questions daily, and no question or comment is disallowed because of content. This creates understanding and trust in geographically dispersed organizations.

10. Develop Your People
It�s not enough to value people. Every person must feel valued from their own perspective, not yours. If people truly feel valued, they will thrive and be able to reach their long-term career aspirations.

As part of valuing your employees, you need to develop them, even if it�s into your own job. Every time I move to a new job I immediately begin developing the staff so that we have candidates in the wings that can replace me when I move on.

About the Author
Jack P. Trautman is president of the Automated Test Group and senior vice president of Agilent Technologies. He joined HP in 1974 as an R&D engineer and later served as general manager of HP�s Loveland Technology Center, the Manufacturing Test Division, and the Measurement Systems Division. Mr. Trautman was named general manager of HP�s Computer Peripherals Bristol Division in Bristol, England, in 1997 and general manager of the Data Protection Business in 2000 and joined Agilent in 2001 as vice president and general manager of the Communications Management Solutions Business Unit. He received a bachelor�s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, an M.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford University, and an executive M.B.A. from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.

Agilent Technologies, 815 SW 14th St., Loveland, CO 80537, 970-679-3399, e-mail: [email protected]

August 2005

Sponsored Recommendations

What are the Important Considerations when Assessing Cobot Safety?

April 16, 2024
A review of the requirements of ISO/TS 15066 and how they fit in with ISO 10218-1 and 10218-2 a consideration the complexities of collaboration.

Wire & Cable Cutting Digi-Spool® Service

April 16, 2024
Explore DigiKey’s Digi-Spool® professional cutting service for efficient and precise wire and cable management. Custom-cut to your exact specifications for a variety of cable ...

DigiKey Factory Tomorrow Season 3: Sustainable Manufacturing

April 16, 2024
Industry 4.0 is helping manufacturers develop and integrate technologies such as AI, edge computing and connectivity for the factories of tomorrow. Learn more at DigiKey today...

Connectivity – The Backbone of Sustainable Automation

April 16, 2024
Advanced interfaces for signals, data, and electrical power are essential. They help save resources and costs when networking production equipment.


To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Electronic Design, create an account today!