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Management 101 isn’t the 101 you remember

If you’ve been in management for ten or more years, things have changed.  Let alone if you have been managing for twenty.  Is this you? – Do you feel like a dinosaur at times?

How society and governments behave, what we eat, how cars can now keep us safer on the roads, all these have changed significantly. Technology has certainly put things on in ? their our ? heads. Our access to knowledge is probably the biggest change to our society in the past decade.  When was the last time you used a printed dictionary?

I assumed that my management style that worked for me ten to fifteen years ago should work today – and was surprised when it began to let me down.  What worked as a Manager 10 years ago, seems not to work as well or had caused more issues than benefits.  The formula needed changing.

Management today is vastly different to how we were managed, and how we managed in the 1990s and early 2000’s.  Management 101 isn’t the 101 we knew – it’s a new 101.  Its ever-changing.

We grew up in an environment that accepted that the Boss was the Boss and you did what you were directed to.  Yes, it was the time that Bosses listened to your view, but ultimately it was their call.  It was a more prescriptive time.  You had to be at the office to do your work, to attend a meeting you had to be physically there in the room.  The relationship with you and your subordinate was a direct one, there wasn’t a real involvement from Human Resources or Safety, it was just the two of you.  The Manager had the ability to set the agenda for most parts of the relationship between themselves and the subordinate.

How things have changed.  What an employee now expects is that they can contribute, have a voice, that their views will formulate decisions.  Their expectation on flexibility of work location and time of work is ever growing.  We have moved away from having to be there, working set hours, to employees wanting a bigger say in what the organisation is doing and how it is done. 

Changing our spots can challenge a seasoned manager, but if we are to grow as Managers, we need to change our styles – it doesn’t have to be a drastic change to lose that T-Rex style- it can just take a few tweaks to how we operate on a daily basis.

Here are a few suggestions on the little things we can do to move from prescriptive to collaborative:

  • If a team member comes to you with a problem – don’t go into solution mode and solve it for them, set them up to develop the solution.  Ask them questions that help guide them towards the answer they require.  Having solved the puzzle themselves will certainly make them feel good about themselves and give them the confidence to try to find the solution to their next problem themselves.  It will take longer to get to the answer they want, but that time invested will pay in the long run.
  • Are you always setting the agenda – have you ever asked why?  Whether it’s a meeting agenda or the long-term agenda of your business.  Why are you always setting it?  Asking your staff for their thoughts on what should be part of the meeting, or what the business should be including in its long-term plans will enrich the agenda and the staff members as they will have directly contributed to the business.
  • Have a look at your organisation – is it prescriptive – everything flows from the top, or is it collaborative – things flow both up, down and across?  Having your teams collaborate on business decisions, direction of the business, solving problems, will certainly contribute to their development and the development of the business.
  • Know how the staff feel about you and the business – don’t assume everything is OK.  Ask your employees, have confidential surveys conducted – the feedback will surprise you.
  • Finally, realise, you don’t have to be the expert – Managers of the past were the ones with all the knowledge.  If you didn’t know what needed to be done – you went to your boss.  As a Manager, I held the belief, I should know how the business worked and could do what was expected of by? my staff.  Today that’s not the case, its acknowledged that your boss doesn’t know all, that as a team answers can be found and staff may have solutions to an issue that a Manager does not.

There will be times that these changes will challenge you, you will feel that you should provide the answers, that you should know all, that letting your team have greater autonomy reduces your range of control.  Challenge yourself with these, modify the formula you use – it will make you the manager you need to be today.

Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to dowe hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

The Management of people will always change – will are you ready to change with the times?