Lift: Case Study-Manage Activities not Results


FROM THE NEW BOOK Lift: Five Practices Great Managers Do Consistently by Raymond L. Wheeler

Lift Case Study: Manage Activities not Results

Coach, train, and adjust employee focus based on measurable actions that produce desired outcomes versus threats, brow-beating, and berating around missed goals and quotas that alienate talent and deplete emotional energy.


The maintenance department of a large urban school district failed to meet its construction and remediation goals. Changes in regulations, aging school district facilities, and rapid growth in the department contributed to new demands on processes and management styles. As a result, poor morale, ruinous grievances, and work slowdowns characterized the culture of the department.


A survey of employees identified the lack of trust between the director and his team leaders. When presented with the patterns of behavior made evident by the study, the director initially rejected the idea of adjusting his leadership style to the development needs of his key employees. He interpreted this as an accusation of inadequacy, “Don’t try to change me,” became his refrain. He needed help to differentiate his core identity from his leadership approach. By showing him one set of actions, he could take to empower his team, he committed to practicing these daily.


As the department saw a consistent attempt at change by the director, grievances reduced in number; distrust diminished, morale improved, and work accelerated. The director allowed his assistant director to empower team leaders and develop management training needed to help team leaders learn new tools of relationship management.


What surprised everyone was how substantial a change was leveraged by one small alteration in the director’s daily routine. The fear of change can often stem from feelings of inadequacy – some managers struggle with feeling like frauds in their jobs. They are aware that something needs to change but can’t define what or how to. Managing activities, not results, is accomplished by:

  • Helping others see patterns of behavior
  • Learning to adjust your management approach
  • Remembering to utilize support elements
  • Delegating effectively rather than abdicating the hard work
  • Learning to evaluate employee development

Learn More

Some managers pull groups together to produce extraordinary results.  Others exist in chaos of emotional excesses and deficiencies.  Why? What is the difference between the two? Through a series of interviews and observations, Dr. Ray Wheeler identified five practices that characterize the actions of remarkable managers who Lift performance and morale by consistently building ownership, working facts, knowing their people and themselves, managing activities, and building a climate of hope. In illustrating the components of the five practices of Lift with case studies and clear explanations, Ray offers a way forward for anyone looking to improve the way they manage their team.

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