The Management Paradox

Last time I’ve analyzed the manager’s job at a regular company. I looked at what responsibilities the manager has, and what can be delegated to the team. If enough people see through that, we’ll have a revolution in management. Obviously, we’re not there yet.

A pyramid scheme

How many flat organizations do you know? And how flat are they really? There is always someone in charge. The truth is, It’s been this way since the beginning of humanity. Some people lead and the rest get comfortable inside the system.

I’m not going to talk about leadership (yet). But most people have no incentive to rock the boat. If they have the passion and drive, they’ll rise to the top. Otherwise, they just strengthen the pyramid structure.

This comfort comes with a price – the lack of innovation and free thought. It’s a two player game: The management gets and maintains control. The workers do what they are told within the system. When they have had enough, they leave. Had enough of what? Dan Pink talks about three personal motivators: Mastery, autonomy and purpose. We leave when we’re tired of not getting enough of those three.

The manager paradox

We can’t really get rid of managers, because we’re hard-wired to fulfill the prophecy of hierarchical structures. And management persist the structure, while shooting itself in the foot. The only way to change an organization is from a management position.

What would a good manager do?

Modify the system in a way that people will feel able to achieve their motivations. We call this empowerment, although I really don’t like this word. You can’t teach empowerment. And it’s starts with the empowerer, but doesn’t result with an empowered (how much empowerment is enough?). Let’s talk about real actions.

We can, as managers, encourage experiments and embrace failures. We can create FedEx days. We can do less stupid things that drive people away, like this. Or this.

We can do a lot more, but the secret is already out: we need to be managers to drive change.

We can’t get rid of management. But we can surely replace bad with better.

2 comments on “The Management Paradox”

  1. Lisa Reply

    I think there are no good managers any more. managers and bosses have come under same root..and they just want how the month ends with good results. these days there is no quality leadership and motivational quality’s Hierarchy Structure

  2. Gil Zilberfeld Reply

    Lisa, thanks for the comment!

    I’m still wondering what makes good managers. In organizational terms,that means meeting the organizational results. That of course leads the view of meeting the results.

    I think that the command and control way is the shortest way to get there. It’s a lousy way as we all know, but since managers have role power, it seems that it’s easier to use it to get the result.

    The problem of course, is that it’s not that simple, nor effective. There are no immediate answers which can be taught. So good management is hard to teach.

    As I’m learning more, I understand more about complexity and the ability to adapt to change. It’s about losing the ability to control, and set the system in a way that it produces results, but not in a conventional way.

    More to come.

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