Inevitably Agile

somethings are just inevitable …

New era of management

Since I was little it was shown to me in various yet numerous ways that the way managers manage is to bark orders at people and then they do those things. angrydogIf you questions these orders or make comments or suggestions you’re either humiliated, shouted at for speaking when you shouldn’t or ignored. It seemed wrong and mean and nasty – and yet when I became a manger that was how I managed…. slippery slope indeed. I think part of it had to do with all my fellow managers managing in this way. They would take offense to "bark" and insist that they make suggestions (but if those suggestions are never opposed for various reasons – then the team isn’t exactly being empowered and the manager is making ALL the decisions). "Yes – that’s how it should be" – I’m sure some of you are thinking :)  And that is the really tricky part to get over.

Imagine a team where they tell you what should be done and how. Where they suggest improvements before you can even think of them. Where the team tells you what they will finish and by when. Don’t think – I said imagine 🙂

"But what would I do?" is a thought popping into your head perhaps… imagine your team telling you (the manager) when something is bothering them and requesting that you action that issue. That would be a self-organising team. Its a scary thought for many of us old school managers. How often have I heard (and *blush* used) the analogy that I am the mother of my team. Tell the kids when to eat, sleep, brush their teeth – when they can go outside and play and when they must sit down, shut up and do their homework.

shoutingAtKid I cringe as I write this… goose flesh on my arms. Does the word "dictator" jump into anyone else’s mind? These are grown adults for heavens sake, some of them with many more years experience then me, and most with more knowledge in the particular areas then me. So why does it get encouraged to micromanage them?

Here I blame the "older" more experienced managers and society in general. I never went on a course to become a manager. Or was taught skills to aid with management. No – I was good at organising and sorting things out and found working with people more interesting than working with code. I’ve now been in the "management" gig for around 2 years and boy have I learnt a lot. Mostly what NOT to do and usually because that is exactly what I did. It was a classic case of sink or swim.

Looking back I realise that I was too new to management and too eager to please to question anything that was happening – after all I didn’t want to sink (or even worse – disappoint senior management).

As they say hindsight is 20-20. So I blog this in hope that should I be in the position to groom a new manager I will remember all of this. (Maybe they will read my blog and remind me of all of this!) There are certain skills managers need. No – not Microsoft project and Excel. Soft skills, people skills. So I should recommend books, and have many follow up discussions to talk about what they and I have learnt. There are topics like conflict resolution and facilitation and TONS of other tricky minefield problems… enough to keep growing and learning for your entire career! I call this the "new" era of management. One of servant leadership. One of stepping back to allow others to shine. One of no ego. Some people call this agile management, other terms like management 2.0 and management 3.0 have come into existence. I think there is a growing number of people wanting to change the default “dictator” management style into a new one … and I’m proud to be part of this ‘movement’ of thought and consciousness 🙂


2 responses to “New era of management

  1. Adam February 2, 2010 at 7:41 am

    …. (from a conversation) …
    And so the biggest insight I got from this little exercise today is that it is easy to be an agile manager when you are supported. It is WAY less easy to be an agile manager when the top levels of your company do not fully support you, even if they buy into the fact that things are working, and yet want the best of both worlds and still impose traditional management you to do things that you would never normally think of doing in your agile mindset, and even if you suspect it will hurt the team, you kind of hope that they know it’s coming “from above” – or from below, depending on where you locate hell.

    And so you’ve reminded me that [a] it’s important to have supportive management. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s possible to achieve true success with agile if you don’t.
    And [b] that when you fiercely believe in the right way to do things it’s worth fighting for
    And [c] that when you’re in a precarious position because you don’t get that support and you think fighting for the position will put your job in jeopardy, it’s probably time to find a place where you can do the right things in the right way and feel loved for it.

  2. Dr Paul Thomas July 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Sam, great post. Its nice to read something which is honest and open. Why have managers in the first place? There are now loads of companies who don’t have managers or the accompanying nonsense .

    The majority of people are hard working, loyal, innovative, creative, passionate and committed, except for the eight hours when they’re in work. But employees aren’t to blame – it’s the notion of management, and the ‘mindset’ of managers, with their emphasis on processes and structures that restricts innovation.

    Questioning how we manage and how we are managed is a difficult process. It causes fear, uncertainty, and worry for many managers as they begin to realise they’re not adding value to the customer experience. Instead most managers create bureaucracy, rules and procedures that are costly and counter-productive to the success the business.

    Its always been a worry of r that Society believes in democracy in all areas of life except in the workplace this and this needs to change. Staff (people) are capable of meeting customers’ expectations but managers can hinder them from doing this. We need a business model that is based on trust, freedom, and empowerment of employees (like my work with the BBC and companies around the world). Organisations should empower staff and professionals to make things happen for their customers within budget. Staff and front-line workers should be trusted as adults and treated as such. We live in a democratic society outside of work, why do we have to be answerable to managers in work? Why aren’t we trusted to make the right decision in line with the organisations’ agreed values?”

    Just had to rant…sorry…lol

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