Our economy needs a boost

Take a look around and you will see a lackluster economy in many countries around the world. While some of this does have to do with financial crisis, much more has to do with poor management.

People come to work with high expectations. In many workplaces adults are treated like children with an overemphasis on punishment, reward, and silly contests. Add to this an old outdated style of management, and as a result, people are fearful to be creative, take risks, have courage at work, and productivity suffers.

In the early 20th century, scientific management was focused on efficiency and effectiveness. Early managers managed through one way mirror monitoring, controlling employees, and their actions. Some workplaces today still operate this way. Followed was behaviorism with the initial idea that if people can be involved in the process of giving feedback about how they do their work, productivity would increase. Sadly, over time this model was extended too far with the carrot and stick approach which most modern workplaces resemble. As a result today’s modern worker doesn’t like his or her work very much. It has become a survival necessity, working only for money. When people are working for survival, they are not very productive in the long term. Modern workplaces today assume workers are lazy and assume they need competition, rankings and ratings, and the threat of punishment.

Today’s workplace is going to change

Most workers don’t like their work and would leave in a moment if they had a better offer or opportunity. This is especially true for today younger worker under 30, who unlike their parents expect work to provide balance, joy, and positive relationships. Unfortunately, most HR policies and programs filled with performance management models and too many rules and constraints which don’t add value to really what’s needed for today’s modern worker. Although, the new generation and those who are still in school between the ages 15 and 25 in about ten years will finally bring change. These future managers will discard rewards and recognition, performance management models, and other like models of carrot and stick. They will be replaced with evolving work groups, instant feedback, and fast moving social networks. These future managers will look back on the annual review and wonder what was the purpose? Instead they will use a system of two ways instant communications based on openness, trust, and respect. Goals and objectives will be set and monitored like today but in a more collaborative way without the goal of catching people doing things wrong at work.

How can we make positive changes now?

Managers today need to reexamine their behavior and assumptions about what drives people at work. They have to ask, “Are we enabling joy at work or just fear which is limiting growth and creativity?” They have to ask, “Are we leading healthy systems or systems which are punitive and stagnant?” It’s time to try new approaches which will take courage by today’s leaders.

The New Humanistic Management is here now

A new wave is needed now, which I am calling Humanistic Management. It is systems based and is built around a new working model of trust and collaboration between management and employees. Written performance reviews are replaced with daily face to face communications where possible. Dialog between workers and management is feedback based not evaluative in nature. Carrot and stick is replaced by compensation models which reward team effort. Restrictive policies and rules are replaced by workplaces which accommodate the ways in which people like to work best. Job descriptions and other non-value added HR policy is replaced by processes and evolving opportunities for people to contribute in multiple areas based on their abilities and interests at the time. Human Resources models also change to place the focus on enabling joy at work as only then will a person feel vested and ready to make a full contribution. This new wave of Humanistic Management will focus on people over profit with a clear understanding that this is the route to business success. Management will manage through coaching, collaboration as business partners not out of positions of authority or power. This is good for people, business, and most important for society.

Greed sub-optimizes the system

Unfortunately, unless behavior is changed, patterns continue. If we look at the Enron crisis, the Dot Com crash, the mortgage meltdown and the on-going behavior on Wall Street, behavior has not changed and we are headed for yet another crisis in around 2 years. When organizations manage by creating winners and losers with their employees, everyone loses.

How to role model the new Best Manager?

First, change your assumptions around people. Take a new position that people do their best at work when their deep interests and abilities, which they are motivated to do, are aligned. People want to feel vested at work. People want to contribute and make a difference. People want feedback at work not evaluation. Treat people as partners, as adults in collaboration. Eliminate the non-valued added performance review, silly contests, slogans, restrictive work hours and all punitive measures. Enable more flexibility, more balance, and more creative ways to work. As a result, the organization will see better results. It might easy to read this article and dismiss this as another new age wish list for work. This would be a mistake. The younger generation is growing up fast and will implement this in either case over the next 10 years. It will be implemented because the current system isn’t working for business or for people. The new wave, Humanistic Management, is coming and you would be wise now to get on board!

l’ll be cheering you on as you go!

Craig Nathanson

Author's Bio: 

Craig Nathanson is the founder of The Best Manager , workshops and products aimed at bringing out the best in those who manage and lead others.

Craig is a 25 year management veteran, Executive coach, college professor, author, and workshop leader. Also, Craig Nathanson is The Vocational Coach helping people and organizations thrive in their work and life.