New era of management
February 1, 2010
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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. If 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.
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 🙂