Technically brilliant but not SMART?

Musing with the CEO of one of the UK’s leading scientific research institutes the other day… he told me that early in his scientific career he had been advised to ignore management and focus on becoming a great scientist.    ‘You’ll get a top job anyway’ was the advice.  So he worked hard and is indeed a world respected and renowned scientist.  But he finds himself running a 1000 person organisation, with many of the most senior people just like himself – great scientists, little or no management experience.  As he said, he only heard about SMART last year, and some of his people told us they had been managers for 20 years in science organisations and never had to set an objective for themselves or their teams.

Now, SMART goals aren’t going to save the world, whereas great science will make lives better.  Yet, having goals and (by an extension of this principle) good, competent management practice in place will enable all our scientists to do better work -as our colleagues at this particular research institute are discovering.

This is an extreme example, but at 3C we frequently see managers promoted on the basis of technical or professional excellence, who lack essential management skills.  If you see this in your organisation, our experience suggests that investing in developing critical performance management skills ( how to set goals, hold people to account, coach and support) will pay huge dividends through reduction in stress, and increased motivation and output.