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What America’s Got Talent Can Teach You About Managing

Filed Under Human Factors

Americas Got Talent

This is a reader guest post by Jeremy Neuharth. Jeremy is a .NET software engineer with State Bank and Trust and enjoys learning and assisting teams in implementing release management and continuous integration.

As an individual that watches the national talent completion America’s Got Talent I was surprised when I found something beyond basic entertainment value. What is this special nugget, well it is a management framework that should be used for managers everywhere.

What does America’s Got Talent have to do with management anyways? I’m so glad you asked! It is simple, really. I’ve broken it down into three parts, and think it is quite an effective process for managing employees.

1. Set expectations

When a performer comes out on stage, he knows he must wow the crowd and judges so he can continue on to the next round. Now, obviously on a TV show with thousands of performances one doesn’t have the same ratio of managers to employees, and for the most part the expectation is understood, but the thing to note is an expectation has been set.

Likewise, I believe that generally most employees show up on the job with the desire to do good work. So, if expectations are communicated to them, they will work to achieve those goals. It is almost human nature to try to satisfy your boss, just as it once was to try to please your parents (if it still isn’t). Therefore, as a manager, you should clearly state what your expectation is for each employee so they are aware of their goals and can attempt to achieve them. Listen to the Hoff, make us go crazy from your performance.

2. Watch and “X” if needed (Coaching)

During each act, the judges (managers) watch the performance without getting involved, except in the case where the performance is failing. In this case, the judge “X”s the performance, which alerts the performer to the fact that he is not meeting the set expectation.

If a manager has set clear expectations, I believe a normal employee would not expect a manager do their work for them, but rather use your experience to coach from the sidelines. (NOTE: I said sidelines, which means that you can’t be on the playing field asking for updates every 10 minutes). If the employee runs off the tracks a bit, but has some experience with what he is doing, let him run with it – you might learn something yourself. On the other side, if that same employee is heading toward a total train wreck of a project, get in there and coach him to success.

3. Give feedback ( Punishment or Praise)

The third and final step of the model is giving feedback. Once the performer has completed the performance, each judge chimes in with how they felt the performance measured up to their expectations. If the performance was beyond their expectations they might give a standing ovation with words of praise to go along with their vote to the next round. If the performance needed small improvements they might give some advice and let them try to prove themselves in the next round. Finally if they missed the mark, not only are they punished verbally, but they lose the opportunity to perform again until next year.

The same applies to being a good manager. If, as an employee, I miss the mark, tell me what I did wrong and pull back the reigns a bit. If you can tell I learned the lesson and have gained valuable experience, let me go to the “next round” and show you that I have learned. If I really missed the mark, take me out of the competition for a while and coach me a bit to get better.

As you can see, America’s Got Talent has not only provided us with a few hours of entertainment, but also a management process that is simple yet effective. Unfortunately, an amazing number of managers fail to hit the mark. Apparent “mind reading” tricks and a tremendous lack of feedback have allowed ineffective workplaces to run rampant. Create an environment for your employees to use the talents you hired them for in the first place, and use the America’s Got Talent three easy step management system by setting expectations, monitoring, and providing feedback. Vote for your favorite, lines will be open for approximately two hours after the end of the show…

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One Response to “What America’s Got Talent Can Teach You About Managing”

  1. Arjan`s World » LINKBLOG for October 7, 2008 on October 7th, 2008 8:12 am

    […] What America’s Got Talent Can Teach You About Managing – Max Pool ‘ What does America’s Got Talent have to do with management anyways? I’m so glad you asked! It is simple, really ‘ […]

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