A smart manager is lazy. Being lazy requires that you let go things and that you are not too busy, so that you have time left for the things that truly matter. Martin Waaijer aims to inspire managers as well as employees to a new form of cooperation, in which managers use the complete potential of their employees and give back to themselves and their employees the enjoyment in the daily work.

In projects, I often see project managers who are very busy with project plans, technical consultation and reporting, but who pay little attention to human relationships in the project. The project is perceived as a technical problem rather than an issue of cooperation.

We don’t only see this in projects but also in organizations. Managers have a wrong idea about their tasks and therefore spend a lot of time with the wrong activities. The consequence is that there is little time left for the things that truly matter.

I see that managers, for example, spend a lot of time with working meetings with employees and with meetings with other executives to exercise control over the organization. Meanwhile, they read and write voluminous reports. Managers are very busy, but their employees are nevertheless dissatisfied. They complain about the lack of vision of management, the lack of autonomy to practice their craft, the lack of personal trust and the unavailability of managers when they really need them.

What are we doing wrong? I think that we still go too much with the outdated concept of hierarchical structures with many rules and procedures to control the organization. The starting point of many managers is mistrust. They are then surprised that employees don’t take responsibility and show victimization.

In my point of view there is only one solution and that is self-organization. Assume that your employees can think for themselves, are capable and are able to organize their work for themselves. Are you obsolete? No: what they need from you is passion and vision, and the resources and conditions within which they can act autonomously and take responsibility.

The choice of self-organization requires something that managers have hard time with: to let go. Your expectation must be that employees are autonomous professionals who know what they do, who occasionally make mistakes just like you, which they usually solve for themselves and of which they learn. Your expectation must also be that they often do not need you, but will mobilize you if they feel the need. You must suppress your reflexes to intervene at the slightest little thing that is getting to go wrong. You will wonder about the new dynamic that arises: employees who will surprise you positive, unexpected initiatives and original solutions. You can’t even tell anymore how you could function the way things were.

Be lazy and leave the daily work to people who know what they are doing. Stop with holding meetings and controlling employees, in order for you to have time for good personal conversations. Be lazy, so that customers, patients, citizens and students are put back at the centre.