The last time I remember hearing managers referred to as ‘dinosaurs’ was about 20 years ago when organizations were moving into a workplace environment that required a computer on every desk Many managers couldn’t see the need, didn’t want to learn how to use one, and certainly didn’t want to support their staff transitioning to this operating standard they considered to be unnecessary. It was a classic case of ‘changeitis’ – trauma brought on by the evolving globe. Well I hate to say it, but a new generation of dinosaurs has been discovered, and one or more of them may be located in your organization. It seems to me our workplaces are once again at a significant crossroads - change or become extinct.
So what has to change? This time the out–of-date thinking has to do with management practices. It was in the industrial era that our ‘traditional management practices’ were developed. Most of the workers at that time were factory workers. Take a moment to contrast today’s workers with those of the industrial era. Today, most of our workers are knowledge workers, defined as workers who talk, text, and network. These are workers who use creativity and thought processes to accomplish their tasks. And most likely, these workers are responsible for making decisions on their own or collectively in a group. Are you beginning to see the disconnects? What was needed then versus now is impacted by so many things including: the work environment, job competencies, empowerment, technologies and innovation.
The command-and-control style of the 1950’s doesn’t work in the 21st century. Knowledge workers need to collaborate, communicate, and be creative in the manner in which they solve problems. The "I’m in charge so do what I say" approach just doesn’t work any longer. Now, I can almost hear some of you saying, "Well everyone knows that. That’s not new." But the reality is, not everyone has realized this yet, and it’s creating organizational chaos and hostile work environments.
So What’s Next?
We need to ensure that our current managers, those in the pipeline, and those we consider for future hires are aware that ‘command and control’ management practices are no longer applicable and that they employ management approaches grounded in accountability and collaboration, demonstrating a participatory, respectful and open management style. We need to offer training, mentoring and executive coaching to aid in transitions for those experiencing difficulty with the shift.
In addition to re-educating our leaders, we also need to change and foster workplace cultures that inspire and reward collaborative processes – environments valuing commitment and accountability, not compliance.
As we move faster towards virtual workplaces, managers will not be able to watch over their staff in the traditional sense of what we know that looks like. Employees will need to agree to goals and be accountable for achieving those goals together with their peers. Work will be accomplished at the location that makes the most sense for the work and the worker. As long as everyone knows the mission, vision and goals and is committed to doing a quality job, work should be able to be accomplished. Policies and procedures will need to be in place to support the transformations of our organizations.
It’s time to help the dinosaurs evolve. Create a strategy to educate managers and employees about changing times and the need to change workplace expectations and practices. Help them see the benefits of shifting from a compliance regiment to one of accountability and engagement. Have employees share their stories about the productivity benefits of working with managers who practice collaborative and participatory approaches. After all is said and done, you may still need a cultural assessment to help you develop next steps; I’d be delighted to help you. Contact me at 770.587.90320.
My point: Learn from the growing pains other organizations are experiencing. Don’t allow your organizations to get hung up and paralyzed by managers trying to force a square peg in a round hole. Many of the ‘traditional’ practices of the past are not relevant or appropriate in today’s environment. Eliminate the ones that no longer apply to your situations and replace them with practices that are more supportive and flexible, a better fit in today’s market. Don’t be left in the dust – embrace change, collaboration and team versus individual work units. For further reading on this topic consider Mark Addleson’s new book, Beyond Management: Taking Charge at Work.
As always, I welcome your comments to my posting. Please click below. If you found this article interesting I’m very happy for you to pass it along to others. Have a great week.
This article was written by Deborah A. King, SPHR, CEO and Sr. Organizational Effectiveness Consultant with Evolution Management, Inc. Debbie and her team are energized by change and can help your organization navigate the human and operational pathways to the future. Contact us for more information: www.evolutionmgt.com; 770.587.9032.