Are You a Traditional Manager or Self-Management Facilitator?

April 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Are you a traditional manager or self-management facilitator?   Perhaps you recognize the need to change and you are making the transition.   Some organizations will be able to delay the transformation and others will need to change now or die.  I believe we will all need to make this transition at some point (some sooner than later) because the traditional manager and his/her current skill set are going the way of the Dodo bird.

The current management model that requires managers to “drive” results, and evaluate performance is not fast enough to keep up with changes occurring in the global economy.  There is a need for instant adaptability and traditional managers, as smart as they may be, cannot respond or plan fast enough.  The need to adapt to change is one of the dynamics creating a need for organizations to self-organize or self-manage.

Besides the need to adapt to the speed of change, managers must also be able to create environments that engage people naturally and not force so called engagement with bribes and threats.  Many traditional managers use so called “new” motivational initiatives to create employee engagement but these programs are really just the same old traditional management with fancy digital bells and whistles.

An environment of employee engagement is needed for adaptability.  Employee engagement is also needed for innovation.  It is impossible for bribes and threats of the traditional management policies, such as pay for performance and the traditional performance review, to encourage optimal innovation and creativity.  Managers are conducting performance reviews poorly because those policies are no longer able to meet neither the needs of the organization nor the needs of engaged employees.  Like the Dodo and the Dinosaur, the environment has changed and they are going extinct.

Our traditional manager is put in a position of needing to be omnipotent and omniscient.  The complexity of today’s global competition and speed of change make fulfilling this role completely impossible.  No wonder the traditional manager is so stressed and is performing poorly.  Only 29% of employees are engaged.  Less that 50% of employees trust management and less than 50% believe their organizations are able to effectively adapt to change.

How do you know you are making the transition to a self-managing facilitator?  Here are a few thoughts to consider.  First, are you a systems thinker?   In the face of problems or mistakes do you step back and ask questions about how the system is impacting the results and the individual behaviors?  Do you understand and appreciate variation such that you don’t look for root causes unless you are sure the problem is outside the normal variation?

Do you avoid blaming individuals for problems because you know that the performance of an individual worker is the product of the system they work within?  Do you appreciate that the individual worker works in the system and it is your job to work on the system?

Have you clarified a specific context of trust and do you have a process to continuously reinforce it by clarifying and living the values, the mission, and the vision that has been embraced by the entire organization?

Do you continuously build trust and reinforce trust with your people and do you provide them with tools and resources that allow them to also manage trust?

Are you able to provide the tools that enable your people to create self-managing teams which make more and more of the decisions close to the work?  Do you provide them with the tools and the data they need to track their own performance in a collaborative way (without competition)?

Are you helping to facilitate the continuous improvement of everyone’s hand offs?  Hand offs are the information and products delivered internally in an organization that build value for the external customers.  The faster and the higher the quality of hand offs the more profit the organization can make and the happier the external customer will be.

Are you personally developing, and offering opportunities for your people to develop the following skills of emotional intelligence, quality interpersonal interactions, quality system interactions, dialogue, critical thinking skills and systems thinking skills?

The traditional manager has a difficult job but the future self-management facilitator is even more skilled with a completely new set of sophisticated skills.  Are you making the transition?  Are you getting the help you need to make the transformation?  If not, watch out for the Dodo.  You might see it cross the street in front of you very soon.


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