Where Managers Lose the Plot!

Employee turnover is the highest it has been in years. Technology has disrupted archaic industries, millennials have shorter attention span and less commitment to the job, and pay hikes, modicum as they maybe, is enough to serenade employees to jump ship.

But above all these pertinent factors, there is one such factor that dissuades employees from staying on in the job. It is the Boss/Manager/Superior/Supervisor factor. Research pertaining to the attrition rate across companies in various sectors show that disgruntled employees waxed lyrical about bad bosses.

Despite the many merits of a certain job, the perks of the company, the handsome pay cheques, employees stated that a bad boss was the final coup-de-grace in their stint.

This recent article published by the World Economic Forum spoke profoundly about how the era of management was over. While there is talk of a flat organization structure permeating across different sectors in different parts of the world, there needs to be more autonomy given to employees at various levels to make their own judgement.

In the article cited above, with the fourth industrial revolution upon us, ‘ controlling things no longer appears plausible, and controlling people is downright counterproductive’.

We need to inculcate a culture of promoting entrepreneurial culture, and elevating the innovation imperative to the level of existential priority. Hence managers need to avoid a one size fits all approach when it comes to delegating tasks, managing people’ and handing out instructions.

Senior management should essentially look at people in broadly four different categories.

This person comes with years of experience, is sagacious, has been around the block and has been brought in to handle a specific task or specific set of challenges. More often than not, it is high level strategic ideation on either internal restructuring or external relations (entering new markets or acquiring new clients).

This person would operate best with complete autonomy, since he or she is likely aware of the company goals, potential and restrictions. Supervision would not just be counterproductive but could also be demeaning.

After all Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and tech guru stated: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

2. The ‘one for the future’ :

The second person would be the mid-level employee who has put in the grind work and is now looking at the version 2.0 of his career. They aren’t fresh off the boat greenhorns but neither are they the finished product.

They have the potential and the skillsets that will help them in their marathon career but right now, what they need is mentoring. I choose this word carefully since this isn’t and shouldn’t be confused with the daily dictation of tasks.

What this is means is they need to be given the encouragement to take on senior tasks, handle bigger projects, entrusted with more responsibility and given coaching and some guidance along the way. They are by no means the veterans who can sign cheques on the company’s behalf, but neither are they the Johnny-come-lately interns but with the right ‘mentoring’ they can get to be veteran sooner than expected.

3. The Novice:

Almost fresh off the boat, these are the young twenty-something whippersnapper kids that are starting off their careers. They are in their initial training phase and for the training wheels to get off, they need the right ‘coaching’.

This is different from the mentoring phase, where they do need on the job training to pick up the skillsets. They do not have the experience and may not necessarily have the clarity of their future profession. Ergo, it is important to direct them, guide them, provide them constructive feedback and help mould them.

Having a hands off approach or providing them too much autonomy could lead them astray.

4. The Workmen:

This is for the foremen who does need to direct a group twenty to thirty worker bees. More often than not these are the hourly wage rate earners involved in manual labour. They need to be instructed as to the processes, minimum deviation is the norm and following a fixed pattern or routine is essential to derive.

Entrusting them with autonomy and expecting them to ideate would almost certainly not be the best approach.

The successful leader is sagacious and perspicacious enough to assess various hires and know what level of autonomy and motivation they require.

Geopolitics at Fletcher School, Tufts| TEDx Speaker| Op-Ed Writer| Panel Moderator| Storyteller| Thought Leadership

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on July 2, 2018.

A journalist by profession. He writes about business & finance, geopolitics, sports & tech news. He is a TEDx & Toastmasters speaker. Follow him @Akshobh