A Manifesto for Rebooting Management

July 14th, 2014 / Comments Off on A Manifesto for Rebooting Management

Being an entrepreneur is all the rage. People want to work for themselves instead of the man(or woman).

The problem with that is that companies still provide the most opportunities. There are more openings, there is often a clear career path, and the positions can provide better benefits and a more balanced life than working for oneself or at a startup.

But many people, and especially the newest members of the workforce, aren’t prizing these possibilities enough. They have grown up with tons of choices and big corporations with hierarchies and command and control management practices don’t appeal to them.

And while I’m a staunch believer in entrepreneurship as the path to innovation and advancing the world, not everyone is cut out for the entrepreneurial life. I’d like to see more people considering careers at corporations. But that is not going to happen unless companies change.

There certainly is enough room and reason for change. Companies need people. Badly. Everywhere I speak and at every company I visit I always ask how many spots a hiring manager has open. I hear that there are always openings! The world needs more talent than we have—we have a talent crisis. In order to solve it, companies need to figure out how we can help people develop their skills to become appropriate candidates. Simultaneously, companies must evolve our management practices so they can appeal to the modern workforce.

Being the boss has always been a hard job. But now, it’s is harder than ever because it’s not about you—it’s all about everyone else. The era of command-and-control is passé. Arrogant Mad Men style managers (big title, big office, big ego) who expect to be treated with deference and who manage via power and fear, makes today’s employees cringe.

Bullies aren’t accepted at school(or in the NFL) and they’re not accepted in the board room anymore either. Rank and file employees want to be inspired and opt in as opposed to just being told what to do.

Today, it’s about teamwork; people work with us, not for us. It is management’s #1 job to make everyone successful. Management must also get voted onto the team and ensure they lead in a way that people find inspiring. Management must embrace servant leadership.

The world has shifted. It’s time to reboot companies to attract and retain today’s workforce. A manifesto for what managers need to do:

Inspire people, do not control them. Motivating individuals and teams to do their best is essential in today’s world. Get teams to continually reach new heights and raise their own expectations of what is possible. When properly encouraged, we find there is more in all of us to give.

Make it mission driven. People want to know they are making the world better. Work for a higher purpose.

Include people in the dialogue. Let them have a voice. Embrace new ideas and input. Let employees collaborate with their peers and give them access to executives. They want to be included in the conversation and feel as if they are a part of something.

Prize collaboration, not power. This matters in how you manage and how you make decisions. This must not only be top down. There is still a place for process, but solicit input broadly before making a decision.

Understand it’s about opting in. Don’t be afraid of losing people; do things to win them over every day. The old model was built on a belief of scarcity—there are not enough talented people, so managers must hide their top talent so it doesn’t get poached. That’s not the case anymore! There are no jobs for life and you don’t own anyone so they can’t be stolen from you! And anyone with a LinkedIn account or Internet connection can identify and contact the hottest talent. The best way to have someone stay with your company is to make it appealing enough for them to want to stay.

Offer flexibility. People need to work on their own terms, chose their own hours and how they contribute. Millennials grew up with a huge number of choices and expect to keep that in their work place. It’s important to create “step-up opportunities,” or roles that have room for constant expansion and the opportunity to push the boundaries. Facebook has done an excellent job of creating a culture that epitomizes this by offering everyone the same chance to make a meaningful contribution. Every new engineer, whether experienced in the field or a recent college graduate, experiences the same six-week on-boarding program and at the end of “Bootcamp,” engineers aren’t assigned a team; they choose one. In a similar spirit, Google has a 20% Rule where it sets aside 20% of employees’ time to pursue their own entrepreneurial pursuits.

Manage by outcomes. If it’s all about talent, then you need to assemble the best team. If someone is dragging the team down and not doing their jobs, work with them (quickly) to get it fixed, and if not, address the performance issue fast, and make a change, but do so humanely. We need to continually work to get our teams to perform better both individually and collectively.

Communicate. Often. Marissa Mayer has a weekly all hands with every employee.

Challenge them. People want to learn and grow. Invest in them. Statistics show the more you invest, the more likely they are to be promoted, and the longer they stay. The idea that you train them and then risk losing them is ridiculous. You will lose them much faster if you don’t help them advance. Understand your employees’ goals and work to help them achieve them. Provide career development and mentoring outside of the performance review process. Consider allowing the employee to get confidential external mentoring.

Treat people with respect. This one doesn’t require any explanation. Do what’s right.

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