Permission Management

Some years back a very clever Marketing guy, called Seth Godin, helped us to understand ‘permission marketing’. A fascinating piece of insight that gave marketers something very tangible to hold on to and develop as a concept and idea. It’s one of the key reasons Facebook is so damned valuable. Users give permission to be advertised to through their use of the product.

And in recent times, something has been stirring in my mind. A manager in any business, has the primary role of doing what it says on the tin – to manage. Additionally, they have to recognise opportunities for development and enable this to happen. Direct reports are then made to feel valued and motivated to do more as their efforts are being recognised by someone in power.

In a post last week, I spoke about how someone needs to give permission to others for them to change. And this is what I’d like to pose. An employee of a company will want to, in most cases do well and succeed. But do they have permission to do this? I’m not speaking about performance management, and formal things such as promotions, etc. I’m talking about the culture promoted by the manager. Does the manager promote a culture where you have permission to do what you want?

In days gone by, this was called empowerment. It’s also called coaching and mentoring. So take any of those terms, and any of those theories, and it’s no stretch to consider what permission management can encompass. As a manager you give permission for your staff to do what they need to in order to succeed. They understand the parameters, the expectations, the goals and all that jazz.

And here’s the thing, what your staff are doing is their job. Because they’ve been given permission to do it. That is they have permission to do what they’re already expected to do. And because you, as the manager, have provided the attitude, environment, atmosphere, whatever you want to call it, you end up managing (hopefully) the ambitions of the team. That is, the other things are happening in accordance with such a positive set of planning and management that the team are just looking forward to doing their job.

Or I could be talking a load of crap and making a tenuous link between one model and another. Either way, the post was enjoyable enough to write 🙂

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

2 thoughts on “Permission Management”

  1. I think it’s incredibly important for a manager to promote a culture where you have permission to do what you want. Like it or not that manager sets the tone for the team and some of my best work experiences have come from managers who promote learning, making mistakes, open and honest communication and professional development. I’ve also had managers where this isn’t the case. It hasn’t prevented me from doing the things I want, but it just doesn’t feel the same. You always need to be actively managing your own career and development, you can’t expect your manager to do that for you. However, it’s important that managers recognize that their team wants to do well and to succeed. Giving them the permission to do that can be one of the best things a manager can do.

  2. Interesting post Sukh. I’m fascinated by the lack of permission people think they have or are apparently created around them by their managers. Two sides of the same coin perhaps but the questions for me are :

    -What are you stopping your people from doing?
    -What are you stopping yourself from doing?
    -When is permission ever required?

    This comes from a stance that permission is a given unless it’s taken away.

    I can see a relation with coaching & mentoring, especially if you look at how people get stuck or struggle with change. The other major aspects often wrapped up together with the above are fear & readiness…

    I think it’s Increasingly apparent that managers need to think less about controlling performance and more about empowering people.

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