The effectiveness of management is a consideration of all businesses, from the small to the medium-sized, to the big boys, in every town and city. Wherever there’s a workforce, there is usually some semblance and structure of management.
How do today’s managers compare with those of a generation ago? Has the typical management style and approach changed much over the last thirty years?
Perhaps that’s an unfair question to ask. The world was a very different place back then. For a start, it was easily contained within the hours of 9-5. Today, with all the advances in technology, we live in a world permanently switched on. We want everything yesterday; decisions need to be made on the spot; consumers drive change through public feedback and review.
Employees want more from their careers, they don’t want to just turn up and serve their superiors. Their value systems are different, and the range of opportunities on offer to today’s workers are dizzying in comparison to the ‘job for life’ aspirations their parents had.
The people on the front line are very different nowadays.
So, have managers adapted to these changes in culture, personalities and expectations?
We’re not generalists, so we won’t commit to a full-blown ‘no’. What we will say is: there are many examples to be found of management practices that are still designed for yesterday’s industrial society, rather than today’s knowledge-driven world.
Fact: Our brains take in five times as much information today as we did thirty years ago. Our brains are working overtime already.
Because their mental input and output has rocketed, employees today have outgrown being told what to think and do by their bosses. They don’t want to be herded like sheep or to feel constrained, which is a fair analogy of old-style management. They crave autonomy, and to be left to think for themselves. All they need from their manager is leadership, i.e. to be guided, inspired, valued and encouraged. They need examples, a role model – someone to lead them into commercial battle. More Shackleton, less Stalin.
Is it possible to lead a generation if you’re not OF that generation? Do you have to be able to understand your deputies to know what they want and what will push them to be more productive? Seems a silly question, really. Of course, you do. How can you inspire them if you don’t know what evokes their interest? How can you motivate them if you don’t know what will make them act? How can you make them feel valued if you don’t know the measures, ethics and standards they abide by and/or work towards?
The Jigsaw Development Tool not only gives you, insight about yourself, it can also be applied to teams of people. It not only delivers insight, it also offers strategies to communicate with, motivate and differentiate today’s workers. Unlike some of the tools available, the Jigsaw Discovery Tool answers the “So what?” question.
It’s a fact that 75% of employees don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. This represents a significant cost to any company. Time spent on continuous recruitment could be better employed elsewhere (pardon the pun).
In a knowledge economy, it’s the most learned who will succeed. Therefore, a manager needs to be continually adapting and evolving, learning and developing, to help their team do the same. They need to know how to get the best from their people. If their approach to management is the same as it was in ‘the good old days’, this doesn’t happen. Employees feel frustrated at the lack of autonomy, morale dips, ideas turn stale and innovation stalls.
Since the industrial revolution, our bodies have always taken the brunt of our hard work. Today, our brains feel the impact. Most heavy, manual tasks are carried out by machines and most people work in an office, not a factory. Despite knowing more about the brain than we ever have in history, we’re not recognising what research is telling us. For example, the working day, traditionally 9-5, was based on how long an employee could keep up a manual-based task without collapsing with exhaustion. Our brains don’t work in the same way as our bodies. When we need a little more energy running through our veins, we produce adrenaline. If our brain turns to a chemical because it’s exhausted, it’s not a good one that gives us more power – it tends to be cortisol, or some other stress-related hormone, that does damage.
It may be a muscle, but our brain wasn’t designed to run at the same capacity/output for eight hours solid, which means today’s way of working doesn’t fit. A manager expecting to see their team with their noses to their computer screens hour after hour is not just unrealistic, they’re also likely to receive poorer results from their workers as the hours tick by.
Contrast this with a working day that incorporates plenty of opportunity for mental downtime, with physical areas offering peace and quiet, and bright, fun spaces designed to stimulate creativity – you know, like Google’s offices, or the inside of Apple’s headquarters. They don’t provide such workplaces for effect, or because they look nice; they know how today’s masterminds need to be nurtured…
This October, Jigsaw is hosting the ‘Mental Wellbeing Zone’ at the World of Learning Conference, held at the NEC in Birmingham. It’s a two-day learning and development show that attracts visitors from all over the UK and overseas, and from all sectors and sizes of organisations. Over the course of the event, our founder, Michelle McArthur- Morgan, will deliver six seminars, on the subject of developing and maintaining a workplace culture which promotes mental health and wellbeing. Why not join us?