Manager 2.0, part one: “People 2.0″

I have been in the management world for over 20 years, have been a student and a professor at business schools. I have literally swallowed hundreds of management, company management and self help books (if you come to visit Zyncro you will see the immense library). In the end I have come to the conclusion that somebody mentioned to me years ago; that with some luck, from each book, lesson or conference you will take away an idea that you can put into practice. The objective of the next three posts entitled ‘Manager 2.0′ is to transmit those practical ideas, many of them 2.0 and others a lot older but absolutely valid and applicable in the current digital environment.

We will structure the articles in three main groups: people, skills and tools. The three are linked and are inseparable but will be easier to understand if we separate them.

People 2.0

We work with people, NOT with Human resources. This is without a doubt the worst definition ever invented in the management world. Apart form the fact that it was created in the 50′s it also seems like it came from the worst and most slave-driving moments of the 18th century Industrial Revolution. Anyway, if you are lucky enough to be the Managing Director of a company 2.0, I suggest you change that department name at once! I was very pleasantly surprised when I met Didac Lee. He had named the department director the Talent Manager and I thought, “Greatl!”. Other excellent options for the department name People Management and Human Capital Management.

Try applying the previous paragraph to the day to day. People do not switch off their personal lives when they arrive at work, they continue to have personal problems, children who are ill, elderly parents, arguments with their partners… Do you know anything about the family lives of the people you work with? If you do not know much, I would start to from today onwards. They are not resources, they are people that work alongside you. Understanding their environment as well as how they feel will ensure that you all work in a much more pleasant and familiar environment. They will arrive at work knowing that it is also somewhere that welcomes them in and listens to them beyond just work. An example of this; modern organisations plan their weekly meetings from 9:30am onwards and always before 4:00pm, this way parents can drop their children off at school as well as collect them afterwards.

Integral training, a company’s training is one of the least 2.0-like disciplines that we can come across today and is key to improved performance. Coaching is now in fashion and I am not saying it is not a great help but we are still forgetting about the most basic and human issues. How many companies offer their employees free stress management courses or even yoga classes? Stress is the main cause of productivity problems in the current workplace, companies continue to believe that it is a medical issue for all employees but it is not. Let us think about training in a wider sense of the term, knowledge, skills and emotions… this last one is always left out.

Yes to coaching, no to it’s-all-good. One of the most harmful managers I have known is probably one of the nicest and charming people we could meet, I will call him John. Helping people progress means giving positive feedback and advise on ways to go about the improvements of weaknesses. Martin never gave any negative feedback to anybody, the bonuses he gave out were always 100% and his team was always the best. The world was such a marvellous place within his department that Martin even began to receive phone calls from fairyland! But the impact was devastating and cruel, the good employees became complacent with Martin and stopped being themselves whilst turning to mediocracy and becoming below average and the lazy cheaters that never used to work (all companies have at least one) literally did nothing at all, they would spend the whole day surfing the web or watching videos on Youtube. I do not believe in the it’s-all-good approach, we are not all born ‘good’ there will aways be people thinking up way in which to work less or find ways to slack off from their jobs. If you really want to be a manager 2.0 and help your team, congratulate them for the good work they do and let them know about the bad areas in a constructive manner helping them to improve whilst giving them ideas ans suggestions.

And last but not of least importance, share, share, share. managers 2.0 share information at all levels of the organisation. If everyone is informed, emergency situations can be identified and resolved earlier, clients receive a better and faster customer service, and time is not wasted by duplicating efforts and searching for information hidden somewhere within the company. All of this equals improved productivity. If information is power, imagine what a company would be like if all the employees were powerful!

To summarise…

In summary, remember this:

  • We work with people, with feelings and families. The better you know a person on the whole, the more you will achieve from them.
  • Training goes way beyond knowledge and skills. Does your team need stress relief? Is it too noisy in your office for them to be able to concentrate?
  • Feedback must be balanced, real and positive, oriented towards improvement and not criticism but without avoiding the weak points.
  • Sharing is the most powerful productivity tool in the world today. Do you share with your team? Does your team share?

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