Managing a 21st Century Team
Companies today are faced with huge management changes and demands that lie completely outside of our old-school management model. Many large companies that have been around for a long period of time still adhere to the management model made up of almost an ancient military command structure – the principles of process optimization, continuous improvement, and workflow design. Yet this is one reason why over 52% of Fortune 500 companies are gone. The traditional top-down hierarchy model served its purpose through empowering the few and disempowering the many.
So the question lies in how do you cut ties with the old management model, move into a new management technique, continue to produce efficiency, focus and discipline, but now in a creative economy where adaptability, innovation and inspiration are of utmost importance?
The Modern Manager’s Method
Today’s manager has to be equipped with a new set of management skills to coincide with the vast changes in human culture and what employees need, deserve and want. If a manager still has the industrial-age operating style where the “head” (management) thinks and the “hands” (employees) do, it will be very difficult to not only gain the hearts of your employees, but also inspire them to become great within your organization. An operating style like this implies that management does all the thinking and an employee is just a hamster running on a wheel.
As the knowledge and autonomy of today’s employee grows, management needs to start looking at the management/employee relationship as a partnership – from all levels. Your company needs people who can deliver cutting edge performance. They must understand where your company is going and be able to influence this path. Management must recognize that lifetime employment is no longer feasible. It’s imperative to establish a new “employee partnership” involving mutual commitment and will promote an environment for learning, self-leadership, and ongoing employability.
In this post-industrial information era, managers need to change from that of a directing stance to a facilitating stance. Managing and directing the controlled work of employees creates a closed-minded and disassociated workplace. This is never good for the growth of the company. Good managers today will bring the right employees together, engage them in planning the work and coordinate the execution. They monitor the progress of projects and listen to employees as opposed to micro-managing and “directing traffic”.
When management can understand this concept, previous acts of controlling can blossom into coaching, facilitating, nurturing and developing a team of employees that you have always wanted. When this happens, the standard managerial functions of planning, organizing, directing and controlling become shared activities.
Practice Participative Management
A new breed of management called Participative Management has really taken the spotlight over the last few years. Not only is this form of management paving the way into the immediate and long term future, but it is making a huge impact with corporations along the way.
This form of management gives employees a true voice within the company by allowing them to share in the decision-making process by participating in activities such as goal setting, determining work schedules, and making suggestions. Other forms of participative management include increasing employee responsibility and forming self-managed teams – both of which increase employee job satisfaction. Let’s now look at some of the healthy benefits of implementing a participative management model into your company.
MOTIVATION. Low morale and sluggish employee performance are a direct result of a lack of motivation within the workplace. It’s pretty simple, increase motivation and increase performance. By decentralizing the decision-making process, you actually allow employees to become motivated because their thoughts and voices start to become heard. When they feel involved and important, their motivation will skyrocket.
JOB SATISFACTION. Numerous studies have been performed looking at job satisfaction identifiers and whether more money was a predictor in job satisfaction. Surprisingly, according to Forbes, here is their list from #1 to #10 in order.
- Appreciation for your work
- Good relationships with colleagues
- Good work-life balance
- Good relationships with superiors
- Company’s financial stability
- Learning and career development
- Job security
- Attractive fixed salary
- Interesting job content
- Company values
As you can see, in this world where cash is no longer the #1-factor attracting employees to organizations, the war for talent has never been greater. These organizations must focus on other factors to create a more desirable and engaging place to work. Employee satisfaction in participative management companies is typically very high. By employees actually seeing their suggestions and recommendations being implemented and put to good use, their overall perception of the company and satisfaction goes up. Allowing employees to feel like they’re more than a number is how companies go from a minuscule business to an impactful beast.
IMPROVED QUALITY. When employees feel empowered, they put more blood, sweat, and tears into their work. The result? A much higher quality product or service is produced because more care and attention is put into play on the minutest of details. When quality is improved, a company will see that employees will leave no flaw or loophole unreported. Understand that quality control begins at the lowest level and is built from the ground up. Another perk is that since there is a lesser need for supervision, more emphasis can be put on developing skills and self-management. With less energy spent on supervision, overall team functions become more efficient. This typically decreases costs because a well functioning team allows the business owner to scale back on hiring more staff and expend less energy on training.
INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY. Increasing productivity can be one of the hardest things to accomplish in any company. Many employees look at their job as simply trading time for dollars and therefore don’t really care how productive they are or how much money their work efforts make the company. When employees have an increased say in the decision-making process, they start to feel a different and heightened level of company association. The employee now starts to assume responsibility and takes charge. The employee now starts working for the greater good of the company and stops watching the clock to see when 5 pm rolls around.
An important caution to management when implementing a participative management model is that you must anticipate a slowdown in the decision-making process. You’ve heard of too many chefs in the kitchen right? When management and employees are coming up with a new company policy, expect things to go a little slower than expected. Either way, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. At the end of the day, you must determine if this model is right for your company or organization.
Learn more about this topic in chapter four of my book The New Intrapreneur.