Your team's success in disruptive times is dependent on their ability to adapt. Learn how to get them there and adapt effectively in this video.
- The most important question for a manager to ask in a constantly changing world is "How much management is actually needed for my team to be able to solve its problems?" Now, a traditional manager might not even think of a question like that. To the traditional way of thinking, a manager needs to be in control of a team. Anything less could mean anarchy. But to be what I call an adaptive, rather than a traditional, manager, you need to be the guide for a group of problem solvers.
Suppose you didn't show up to work on Monday. You just decided, "Hey, I'm not going in. I'm not responding to email, phone calls, texts, or attempts to accost me on the street. I'm canceling all my meetings. I'm going to a movie. Maybe I'll even leave the country for a while." Most managers would have two nightmares. The first is that everything rapidly goes down the toilet when they don't show up. The second nightmare is that it doesn't. So, what if you didn't show up for work and everything continued to go smoothly? One school of thought says, "Hey, you've done a horrible job.
You clearly have had zero impact on your team." But another school of thought says, "Hey, great job. You've empowered your group of problem solvers to solve its own problems." Now, when solving a problem, I'm a fan of going to the end points and potential solutions and see what can be learned. It doesn't necessarily mean that a dramatic solution is the right approach for the problem at hand. But it's usually pretty instructive. So, since we're talking about how much or little management is needed, let's look at managerless organizations.
If you want a great example of a company that has no specifically designated managers, check out the online handbook for new employees for Valve Software. Valve has been a successful game development company for years. Yet it doesn't really hire managers. Sure new workers are hired for specific skillsets, but they're also hired for a general cultural profile, which includes the ability to operate well in an environment without managers. Now, some people might say, "Well, that works for a 21st century software company.
What about more traditional companies, like manufacturers? That couldn't work." Well, it turns out, one of the pioneers in managerless organizations was Bill Gore, the founder of W.L. Gore and Associates, the company that makes Gore-tex, the breathable fabric. W.L. Gore became a managerless organization in 1967 and has repeatedly been on Fortune's annual list of the 100 best companies to work for starting in 1984. Now, I'm not suggesting you start an internal revolution and do away with every manager in your organization.
But what I'm suggesting is that the way we traditionally think of management, which is a hierarchy of people carrying orders from the top down to the bottom, that's no longer sufficient for many industries and, therefore, for many organizations in an exponentially changing world. And it's going to be even less relevant in the future. But you can continue to look for ways that your team of problem solvers can be empowered to design and conduct their work in more autonomous ways.
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- Dealing with disruptive change and the new rules of work
- Establishing a new contract with workers
- Rethinking job qualifications
- Hiring for diversity and inclusion
- Identifying key skills for adaptive workers
- Helping your team become lifelong learners
- Leveraging automation for your team
- Becoming an adaptive manager
- Making human resources a partner
- Recognizing when your adaptive strategy is working