Today’s management practices and theories are grounded in old knowledge that has no relevancy to today’s environment. Evident by many organizations that still run their business from the top down and without any real engagement from the bottom up.
Ask any one of these business whether their employee’s are engaged and they will say yes. The truth is they don’t even know what engagement means. The old management theories suggested that a good employee was someone who was obedient, diligent and has specific expertise that is relevant to the business. This model discouraged people from taking an initiative to improve anything which by-passed individual creativity and destroyed people’s passion to make a difference.
Gary Hamel writes in his new book “What Matters Now”: If obedience, diligence, and knowledge are the only things you’re getting from your employees, your company will ultimately lose. So we have to move up the capability pyramid. Beyond expertise is initiative—employees who spring into action whenever they see a problem or an opportunity, who don’t wait to be told, who aren’t bound by their job description and are instinctively proactive.
Up another notch is creativity. Here, employees are eager to challenge conventional wisdom and are always hunting for great ideas that can be imported from other industries. Finally, at the apex, is passion—employees who see their work as a calling, as a way to make a positive difference in the world. For these ardent souls, the dividing line between vocation and avocation is indistinct at best. They pour all of themselves into their work. While other employees are merely present, they are engaged.
The attributes of level 1,2 & 3 above have become commodities while those in level 4, 5 & 6 are only available to organizations that are redefing management and all the related systems management uses. Consider Apple, Google as examples of organizations which focused on building a culture which attracted people who live in levels 4,5 & 6. Consider any entrepreneur who is building the 21st century organization and you will see them nurturing cultures similar to Apple & Google.
A Bain & Company survey identified “Business Trends & Tools” and the top trend was “Executive Coming To Grips With Soft Issues”. Under this priority there are five sub-points which are:
- Values matter now more than ever
- We are all in the same business, the people business
- A Passion for change from the bottom & outside
- Two way communications, the more the better
- Learning to lead a culture rather than the business
Now reflect on the above issues and ask if managers have ever been trained to address the above issues. None have and most will deny the importance of these issues because of insecurity and denial.
In most organizations, there are too many things that perpetuate the past and too few that encourage proactive change. The “party of the past” is usually more powerful than the “party of the future.” It is time for a management revolution!