Tilings are often connected in ways that are not apparent. It is often a lack of considering these connections that produce unintended consequences. Unintended, because there was little or no critique of the strategy or review of the subsequent actions, or way these actions discovered and discussed. The goal of this was to show some possible interrelations with the discussions we have had up to this point and relate it to management and project management positions. Since organization’s are techno-social systems, a prescriptive approach is not viable. Though the technical portions may be something quantifiable to some degree, the social part depends on the organization’s industry, objective, and talent.

Project Manager

What is the difference between a manager and a project manager? While there are times when they seem similar, there are times when they seem worlds apart, and then there are even times when there is no difference because the role is satisfied by someone acting as both and yet neither. In the previous section we defined a manager and discussed their role within the organization. In this section we will do the same for project managers and contrast those against management. When you look up project manager online you will get numerous definitions, and the truth is the role of the project manager will depend upon the organization, industry, and a good many other factors.


In the management section we discussed the mission, vision, and values statements and how management should embed learning into these three foundations of the organization. Now we are going to discuss supervisors and how they are going to employ these three corner stones to aid it getting things done. While it is challenging for management to develop these three statements they do not have to attempt to make them work through the effort of others. Let’s look at the mission statement. It gives us a goal: we are going to do “X” or become “Y,” and every goal brings about change by the nature of the goal itself. Therefore, a supervisor must be an agent for change. Now you are probably asking, “Why is this in the learning section? It seems more connected to change rather than learning.” To learn something is to change in the most fundamental way. And if a supervisor desires changes, to meet the mission of the organization, they must promote learning and a learning environment to meet that objective.

Most supervisors came from the workforce and have, hopefully, developed some knowledge of the processes. They have also seen firsthand the effect the environment established in the organization and its effects on obtaining the goal of the mission statement. They must use these experiences to produce both a better environment for further learning and positive experiences to maintain positive motivation. When a supervisor or work leader promotes a positive environment for learning, has an open mental model, those personnel being supervised should no longer feel they are being supervised. They should feel that their input is valued and they are a member of the team. This feeling of belonging will promote or can promote those individuals to better understand the processes (learn) to provide even more to the team.

I saw this on social media, and could not help but capture it. This is exactly what we do not want to happen.


Worker: I have an idea; we could do this task better if we do......

Supervisor: That is interesting. How would doing that affect the remainder of the team, process, or overall system?


That's why you’re a worker. You don’t understand the process.

Worker: I have not thought about that.


Feels their suggestion for a possible improvement is being dismissed and will not make further suggestions about anything. Even issues that require adjustment. Prime example of how negative experiences produce disengaged workers.

At this point the conversation would more than likely end.

Supervisor: Let’s break it down to see if we can determine how it would, but first should we involve anyone else in this discussion if were going to determine how it would affect these things?

This is the start of positive re-enforcement. It will still require follow on actions by both parties: supervisor and worker(s). If no follow on occurs then it will appear as placation to the worker and will actually produce a greater negative response than being dismissed.

P Allen Holub ЯМА v

' ©.illenholub

Learned helplessness is what happens when a company stops crushing the motivation out of people & they still feel crushed. However, the term is usually used by managers at companies that are still doing active crushing, often accompanied by an eye roll. That's real helplessness.

3:00 AM - 14 Mav 2019

Another option would be if the worker has thought about the effects on the other portions of the organization. The supervisor could ask the worker to support their assessment and if they had discussed it with other members of the team.

While this is not direct learning, it is application of understanding: critical and creative thinking, it is much better. Learning is important, but applying that learning in ways the improve the team and the organization is where real progress is made. The use of the model above serves many purposes: to foster people to look past the surface level of a change (systems thinking),[1] [2] building a sense of commitment within the group (shared vision)/ building collective thinking skills through transforming conversations into functional actions (Team Learning),[2] and helping the worker to desire to develop their understanding of the processes to provide better contribution toward the desire goals (Personal Mastery)/ This is four of the five disciplines discussed by Peter Senge in his book “The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook”. The only remaining one is Mental Model and it too is covered in the example above, but we thought it should be addressed separately due to its many sides.

Mental Model or, as we like to refer to it Open Mental Model, is not only a learning tool, but a motivational tool as well. It is a learning tool in that it requires reflection, clarification, and constant improvement of our perspective of our environment.1 It is a motivational tool in that with an open mental model we are not using cognitive biases to shut down the opinions of others, but rather asking about how they were developed to increase our own understanding. This leads not only to our increased understanding, but their feeling of a sense of belonging to the team. Point of truth, as a supervisor there will be times when this approach is not able to be employed, but when those times occur a follow-on with that or those individuals needs to occur to ensure they understand the why behind that action. For the most part I attempt to follow the model that Mr. Anthony Jared employed: a leader or supervisor is a servant to their people in that you are to help them achieve both their goals and that of the organization and the best way to achieve this is through positive learning on the part of all parties.

Project Manager and Change (Habits)

The project manager is in a position to facilitate the cultivation of good habits. Habits are our brains way of reducing the clutter of things it must actively work on or worry about. When an item becomes a habit the brain files it away to use as an automatic response to a set group of criteria. While this helps us to have

While we all have needs that must be fulfilled, the order is as varied as the individual who has them, for example Maslow uses the "Starving Artist."

Figure 8.3 While we all have needs that must be fulfilled, the order is as varied as the individual who has them, for example Maslow uses the "Starving Artist."

more mental power to develop different ideas it comes at a cost. Habits, either good or bad, are harder to overcome (change) than something that has not been established as a habit/routine. Thinking this through, we can see why the mission, vision, and values statements can be such a valuable tool in organizational growth and development; they can make growth and development a habit. However, this is only if these statements, mission, vision, and values, are structured usefully and actually supported. As I am sure, you all have worked for an organization that has had a great mission, vision, and values statement, but that is where it ended, with the paper it was written on.

You are probably asking, “What does this have to do with the project managers, they do not write these statements?” And that would be correct, they do not. However, each project or group of people working together will need to have a connection to these statement. They also need the support of managers to inforce them. So, it would seem this is more like a managerial issue. However, the majority of an organization’s environment is set at the mid-level: supervisors, who are attempting to create an environment that upholds the organization’s statements. There can be a disconnect between managers that are looking for results on the current hot item and most supervisors are looking at so many more items such as development of workers, processes inmprovements, and keeping the organization’s work flowing. This is one reason that some organizations have moved away from having managers and are embracing team supervisors or just

Learning and Leadership ■ 203

The system of organization improvement is complex

Figure 8.4 The system of organization improvement is complex.

the team concept: no positional supervisor or manager. This model fully embraces their mission, vision, and values statements and all employees are held to them through organizational norms. We have written much about organizational norms throughout several previous chapters, but at this point we need to discuss them further.

According to Oxford Research Encyclopedia social norms: are a powerful force in organizations.[4] They go on further to discuss two components to social norms: regularity among a population or group and personnel within the group are aware of the norms and the regularity of said behavior.[4] Also, according to an article from “psychology and society” organizational values present what the organization believes is important or acceptable and provide norms for the people employed there[6] This article links the values statement an organization has to what its people have or view as their norms. Like social norms, organizational norms assert pressure or influence on people to follow without the hierarchy of the organization needing to take an action through the individual’s desire to belong or be an accepted member of the group. This takes us full circle: from the individual’s basic psychological needs to being a member of an organization.1

Motivational Cycles

In the beginning of this book we discussed Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and how these needs provide motivation for that individual to conduct or perform some action to obtain said need. Now we are going to look at this from the supervisor’s perspective. There are four basic motivational drivers: Need, Drive, Incentive, and Goal or Reward.[6] This article goes on further to state how each of these basic motivators are codependent. It states that a “Need” is a physical condition that promotes tension within the individual, but does not necessary produce motivation.4' This tension may give rise to some form of action from the individual until it is met. This action can be considered “Drive.” However, drive does not ensure a specific behavior. For a specific behavior to occur we must introduce an incentive. This directed or specific behavior yields the goal or reward that was promoted by the need.' The reason it is called a motivational cycle is because it continuously repeats itself when a new goal or need, or a revision to a previous goal or need, is introduced. How does this relate to supervision? It relates to supervision in that: “Incentive”, the directing the behavior in a specific manner. Knowing an individual’s goal or need and showing them how (incentive) can help them achieve (Drive) their goal (Reward) goes a long way in establishing trust. While some people feel this is manipulation helping someone see a way to achieve “THEIR” goal through completing an alternate task should be viewed as reciprocation as long as the individual sees both as having a related value. This is where the societal, group, and organizational norms play back into motivation and since these norms are or can be enhanced through the mission, vision, and values statement, mainly the values statement, it just reaffirms the importance of both these statements and their enforcement.

We can now look at the Rule of Reciprocity since we have begun discussing “incentive” as part of motivation and how this plays into motivation. According to Sociologist Alvin Gouldner there is no group on earth that doesn’t follow the Rule of Reciprocity and cultural anthropologist Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox go on to state that it is central to the human experience and responsible for how society is organized into interdependent groups.[8] When I think of more than one person trying to achieve one goal by himself, I think of Zig Ziglar and his book “The Secret of Closing a Sale.” When I was at the Recruiter School for the Navy, they used this book to teach us about reciprocity and individual goal obtainment. The school, using this book, told us that if we showed the individual how the Navy could help them achieve their goal then they would be more likely to join. The key was to determine the individual’s real goal, not just what they would say, and being truthful in how this goal or goals could be achieved. This is no different than in any organization, department, division, or team. While in most cases we as managers and supervisors do not think of these type of issues because the individuals who are working with us are receiving a paycheck, and that should be their reciprocity, this stance does not provide any motivation for true engagement of the work force. This mentality might suffice for young people just starting out who have only the goal of a check, but it will come at a cost of a disengaged worker later in their career when higher aspirations are more prevalent. If we employ this thought pattern and couple it with the Leadership Equation, we can see how an organization has a dramatic effect on their people from the very start. And they should periodically reinforce how the project (organizational goal) will help the individual achieve their goal and the supervisor of said individual should also know if the goal of the individual has changed and how this new goal is supported by the organization’s goal.

In summing up motivational cycles as it pertains to the supervisor, we need to remember that nothing happens without tension between an existing state and a desired state, and that when this tension does exist it needs goal relation to the organization’s goal to become useful to the organization. We must also note that the reason this applies to the supervisor and not the manager is the supervisor has more interaction with a larger number of people who make up the organization. This obviously shifts as the structure or the organization shifts and should be accounted for as such.

Knowledge Sharing

In several sections of this book we discuss knowledge sharing in the form of passing lessons learned from one group to another. However, this is just a small portion of what and how knowledge sharing should be employed. We also discuss knowledge sharing as a part of office politics. This is more in line with lack of knowledge sharing and is likened to the brokering of knowledge to retain or achieve some position of power or perceived power over another individual or group of individuals. I have added to the old adage that knowledge is power to the point of saying that knowledge is like a brick: it weighs the individual down when held close and only when shared can it be used to build something great. As a supervisor the sharing of knowledge is of the utmost importance because it has many more facets than the knowledge sharing of management personnel and/or employees. At the supervisor position the information, knowledge in its raw form, must be filtered to its intended recipient in both directions and in such a manner as to not become entangled in the political arena. This makes the task for knowledge sharing more difficult because each audience has a different use for the information and more than likely a different use for it as well.

If we look at the basic question, How, What, When, Where, and Why, we can easily ascertain the difference in discussions that would be held for the same knowledge sharing between a supervisor and employee, that of a supervisor to manager, and that of supervisor to supervisor. As an exercise think of something you will or have shared with an employee and then think of how you would present that to a manager and supervisor. Then perform that activity in the reverse direction. When completed with both of these actions ask yourself, “Why was the information presented differently?” The presentation of knowledge is most commonly tailored to the expected use of the individual or group it is being provided to with the intent of producing some action or help in achieving some goal (providing incentive) that is desired by either one or all parties involved in the exchange. This tailoring of information can be both good and bad as the manipulation of information can either overload or poorly direct the recipient. This is where the term office politics comes into play, manipulation through minimal information, and where negation through overload comes into view as well: too much information serves little to no use. As with minimalistic information to gain an advantage, so can information overload be another form of an advantage game that appears more as information (Knowledge) sharing than the minimalistic approach, but is probably more destructive than the other. This excessive information also can make its recipient feel inadequate and is an example of several cognitive biases. It is the very nature of this triple bladed sword that renders useful knowledge sharing problematic.

  • [1] * Kleiner, A. & Senge, P. M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. London: Nicholas Brearley. ' Kleiner, A. & Senge, P. M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. London: Nicholas Brearley. * Kleiner, A. & Senge, P. M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. London: Nicholas Brearley. '' Kleiner, A. & Senge, P. M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. London: Nicholas Brearley.
  • [2] Kleiner, A. & Senge, P. M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. London: Nicholas Brearley.
  • [3] Kleiner, A. & Senge, P. M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. London: Nicholas Brearley.
  • [4] Dannals, J. E., & Miller, D. T. (2017, November 10). Social Norms in Organizations.Retrieved April 26, 2019, from acrefore/9780190224851.001.0001/acrefore-9780190224851-e-139' Dannals, J. E., & Miller, D. T. (2017, November 10). Social Norms in Organizations.Retrieved April 26, 2019, from acrefore/9780190224851.001.0001/acrefore-9780190224851-e-139
  • [5] Dannals, J. E., & Miller, D. T. (2017, November 10). Social Norms in Organizations.Retrieved April 26, 2019, from acrefore/9780190224851.001.0001/acrefore-9780190224851-e-139' Dannals, J. E., & Miller, D. T. (2017, November 10). Social Norms in Organizations.Retrieved April 26, 2019, from acrefore/9780190224851.001.0001/acrefore-9780190224851-e-139
  • [6] Smirti. (2019, February 15). Motivation Cycle - Fundamentals of Psychology. Retrieved April26, 2019, from * Smirti. (2019, February 15). Motivation Cycle - Fundamentals of Psychology. Retrieved April26, 2019, from
  • [7] Smirti. (2019, February 15). Motivation Cycle - Fundamentals of Psychology. Retrieved April26, 2019, from * Smirti. (2019, February 15). Motivation Cycle - Fundamentals of Psychology. Retrieved April26, 2019, from
  • [8] Rieck, D. (1997). Influence and Persuasion: The Rule of Reciprocity. Retrieved April 29, 2019,from
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