For most CEO’s, the notion of simply scrapping your entire management structure is a little uncomfortable to say the least. But let’s look at this more closely. Is your management structure adding value, or are managers actually the cogs in a cumbersome machine that is now past its best?
"people today want to be part of something meaningful"
People today want to be part of something meaningful, feel empowered and valued for their contribution. Organisations must move past trite vision statements and values, made trite only because those who ‘do the work’ are often not involved in their creation, so the organization doesn't 'live and breathe' the words written on its collateral. Rallying to a purpose means involvement, which leads to commitment.
As discussed in my last article on why trust leads to better business outcomes, traditionally we apportion trust in organisations in the form of access to information, decision making power and financial authority. This strips many of the people ‘doing the work’ of any real power, we want those very people to take a more holistic view yet we don’t treat them as whole.
Better Brand and Bottom Line – Ditch Your Call Centre asserts that the role of a call centre is unnecessary, costly, and even harmful. But in Profit, Purpose and Personal Fulfillment Can Thrive Together - A Remarkable New Organisational Construct I discuss a wider - though similar - issue, learning from organisations who have transcended the issues faced by most by adopting more self managing constructs.
So has the role of management become another middle man that is perpetuating unnecessary costs? Having been a manager for many years myself, it’s a question I’ve pondered more and more. Initially there was an ego attachment to it, a status that goes with having ‘power’, but then came the responsibility of having to achieve outcomes through others. Quickly I understood the value of intrinsic motivation and the ability to find and ignite it.
There is certainly an art to good management, but the question is whether it's necessary. Do managers simply have to learn these skills because of what has, in essence, been taken away from those in the value chain (doing the work that lies at the heart of the company's existence)? Take away control and many lose that intrinsic motivation to succeed on their own.
In an article, published in Forbes, Jacob Morgan talks of 5 must-have qualities of the modern manager. He covers removing roadblocks from the paths of employees to help them succeed, empowering and engaging people, having a handle of what consumers are saying online, which social and collaborative technologies are making their way into the enterprise, using those collaborative technologies to lead by example, being open and transparent, embracing vulnerability and sharing information and collective intelligence.
These are great qualities, but still, I wonder where the value-add is. How many of these things would be necessary in an environment where those who plan ahead and those who 'do' worked together in self managing teams, are these not things that can be achieved by anyone with the right access, savvy and relationships?
“there would be chaos”
Those who are managers may not have faith that all the people they currently manage could self manage well. Some may even think there would be chaos. Yes it could be a bumpy ride at first, but people quickly adapt and evolve given the right support.
There has to be a huge amount of effort put into training managers that move through the various levels of managers anyway, why not invest that elsewhere, cut out the middleman?
Most people manage perfectly well outside of work, in all the other areas of their life, without someone managing them. Those you manage are after all parents, homeowners, leaders in the community, sportspeople and so on. With experts like Frederic Laloux (author of Reinventing Organizations) and Yanik Silver (author of Evolved Enterprise) around, there is plenty of support to create organisations that manage themselves in quite a different way.
"firms that follow these principles have outperformed the S&P 500 by 1000%"
The organisations of the future are those who rally to a real cause (both those who work in the organisation and their customers), encourage the whole person to show up (rather than the narrow professional slice that has become the norm) and have constructs that facilitate collaboration (internally and externally). In the book Firms of Endearment, the authors show how firms that follow these principles have outperformed the S&P 500 by 1000% over 10 years.
If you want to stick with a management structure to achieve those things, you can, though it’s probably not the most efficient use of your resources in the long term. I’m not suggesting you fire all your managers, it’s the ‘managing people’ part of the role that is largely redundant. In the case studies that Laloux cites, the organisations that have transformed to self managing structures retained all their managers but in roles that added more value.
Regardless of how to choose to evolve, evolve you must in order to thrive in today's world and in order to just to survive in the world of tomorrow.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/45393120@N07/5997001123">HA0521-031</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
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