Traditional management practices are outdated. Today’s businesses must select leaders with the right talent stack — skills, knowledge, wisdom, behavioural traits and accomplishments, and then equip these managers with new tools. The future manager may not resemble anything we see today. They expect to have more autonomy. This trend may make the Peter Principle obsolete.
The workplace is rapidly evolving
Compared to decades past, today's workplace has:
- More flexible workspaces: 74% of employees can move to different areas to do their work
- More flexible work time: 52% of employees have some choice over when they work
- More remote working: 43% of employees work away from their team at least some of the time.
- More matrixed teams: 84% of employees work in a matrix structure to some extent
However, this new fluid workplace is not only about the work environment. Workplaces are more and more project-based. Employees are attracted to exciting problems and meaningful work — not to a job title. Millennials look for purpose over a paycheck. In the last decade, the generation abandons traditional jobs for more ‘meaningful,’ purpose-bound work. Moreover, only 30 percent of women report currently working in their dream jobs.
Teams must have more authority to make decisions to be agile in a project-based work environment. Non-managers must act more like leaders and think more "big picture" like executives.
Behaviours of those who consistently meet or exceed expectations
A manager who is always visible, watching every minute and stopping by to ask if you got the memo is becoming obsolete.” — Adam Hickman, Gallup
Thinking and acting like a leader is what companies want in an employee. Organizations are looking for employees who can:
- make independent decisions with confidence
- problem solve with diverse peer groups
- manage their time, projects, and workload
- manage their relationships, and career path
Implicitly or explicitly, companies often expect employees to "be their own boss" and do for themselves what was considered as "management." Some employees embrace this responsibility while others reject it. You need to ensure that you hire individual who best-fit your expectations. You will get superior results, and the employee will not be stressed taking on a role that does not fit them.
This shift in the workplace alters what employees need from their manager.
Our analytics show that employees who consistently meet or exceed expectations have these five core behavioural competencies:
- Maintains Accountability— Assuming full accountability for what happens and being first to invite criticism and personal responsibility.
- Strives for Excellence— Striving for impeccable standards and the best quality possible through devotion to meticulous excellence.
- Manages Stress— Performing well under stress without unnecessary worry or sensitivity to criticism.
- Demonstrates Character— Maturely honouring interpersonal commitments while maintaining ethical convictions and playing by honourable rules
- Connects with Customer— Building trust, cares about customer success, maintains lasting and meaningful connections with customers, honouring commitments, and meeting their needs.
Mastery of these competencies puts employees on the path to becoming indispensable.
What happens with more autonomy at work?
The negative impacts of micromanagement are so intense that it is labelled among the top three reasons employees resign.”—S.K. Collins, Southern Illinois University
Research shows that when employees have the freedom associated with autonomy, job satisfaction rises. There is also a correlation between increased performance and engagement as well as more sensitivity to failure when people have more independence at work.
It is theorized that this increased level of job satisfaction in employees stems from a feeling of greater responsibility for the quality of their work. Autonomy has also been shown to increase motivation and happiness, along with decreasing employee turnover.
In other words, autonomy leads to increased employee performance and engagement. However, employees still need manager support during stressful situations. Managers can not offer independence and disappear.
Too much employee autonomy can backfire—The culture of the organization will play a significant role in how successful autonomy can be. For example, some employees work well with little oversight, while others need more direction. Too little guidance can be confused with disorganization, instead of freedom.
Teams can have more autonomy in the workplace. An autonomous squad is one that is self-managed and receives little to no direction from a supervisor. When team members work well together, they enhance each other's strengths and compensate for each other's weaknesses. Working in such a cooperative and enriching environment has a positive impact on job satisfaction.
Too much team autonomy can backfire—Some team members may prefer to work alone and disengage from the group. This can lead to miscommunication and ultimately, lower productivity. How you form and develop a team, when you plan to provide them with increased autonomy, is essential to its success.
In decentralized organizations, administrative autonomy is more prevalent. Managers exercise greater authority over their employees. In this type of environment, managers are free to reward and motivate employees as they see fit. As a result, the manager often feels more motivated to do a good job and feels a greater sense of job satisfaction.
Too much managerial autonomy can backfire—if a manager doesn't have the right skills to do the job well, freedom can also fail in this situation. For example, a power-hungry manager who makes poor decisions could hurt not only the employees but the organization.
Develop Your Team
Businesses need leaders who can develop talented individuals. The relationship an employee has with their supervisor is the most meaningful relationship they have with their organization.
However, there are new rules for management, and traditional management practices often do not work anymore.
For example, often managers assume that remote workers' expectations are the same as in-office employees'. However, isolation separates these two types of workers. Perceived workplace isolation can lead to as much as a 21% drop in performance.
The reality is that you can not manage the modern workforce using traditional management methods. Today's manager needs to be a coach, encouraging development and growth, and yet hold employees accountable.
With many of the details of management are now automated. What's left is the most powerful tool a manager has -- meaningful conversations.
Consider your favourite sports coach and how they communicate with their star players. They have a deep understanding of their players through hours of dialogue. They know what to say to motivate each player differently — who needs more feedback, who needs less. Great coaches develop, over time, establish the trust and openness necessary to have tough conversations under pressure.
Most managers, however, are not ready for this kind of personal approach to dialogue with their employees. Organizations can help by providing managers with training on how to lead strengths-based, performance-focused conversations regularly with employees.
Developing Agile Leaders
Agile Leadership is a style where the leader values the need to adapt to continually changing conditions. They embrace new effective behaviours based on new requirements and the challenges of a chaotic, even volatile marketplace. An agile leader is inclusive, democratic, and exhibit a great openness to ideas and innovations. They have a passion for learning, a focus on developing people, and a strong ability to define and communicate.
Our Ladder of Leadership is a behavioural competency model for driving the highest level of performance at three corporate leadership levels. It provides organizations with a data-driven framework to better understand top performers at each level.
In addition to technical skills, academic background and professional experience acquired, an individual’s natural behavioural tendencies are crucial elements to achieving success at work. You need to consider their complete talent stack. Our goal in creating this model is to provide better ways for organizations to capture these natural behavioural tendencies and leverage them to develop the strong, resilient leaders required to drive today’s business strategies. These are strength-based conversations.
Our analytics predicts the likelihood if a candidate will meet or exceed expectations. It also identifies if a there may be a “fatal flaw” in candidates with glowing credentials.
Could management itself become decentralized?
The words centralization and decentralization have been bandied about for as long as anyone has cared to write about organizations.” —Henry Mintzberg The Structuring of Organizations (1979).
Moreover, that is a long time, at least since 400 B.C., when Jethro advised Moses to distribute responsibility to various levels in the hierarchy.
There is no one-size-fits-all organization structure. Changes in a company’s environment or strategic priorities may have an impact on how it organizes itself. Moreover, getting the acclaimed qualities of responsiveness, reliability, efficiency, and perennity does not always require hard structural changes to the organization chart.
Instead of having one "manager," imagine your best employees interacting with a team of specialized experts — one a technical expert, another an interpersonal relationship specialist, another a career coach, etc. Different managers address specific roadblocks to performance, while also consulting with one another to make sure that they are seeing each employee objectively.
If we look at sports, there is one head coach. However, the typical NFL team averages 15 assistant coaches; a college football team generally has nine full-time assistants and two graduate assistants, and strength coaches.
Of course, managers would still need to have tough conversations with employees when necessary. However, they would stay in the background when their team is performing well.
The chance to be coached by a team dedicated to your long-term career development would be a powerful draw for high-potential candidates.
Regardless of what the future holds, it is worth considering unconventional ideas when it comes to management. Sometimes it is easy to miss how business as we know it is evolving.
The old rules no longer apply
Leaders need to reinvent management. The workforce of the future will operate with more autonomy.
The concept of “self-managed organization” attracts much attention. The question of centralization versus decentralization does not go away.
In today’s knowledge-based economy, managerial authority is supposedly in decline. However, there is still a strong need for someone to define and implement the organizational rules of the game.”— Nicolai Foss and Peter Klein, Why Managers Still Matter
A significant challenge for you is achieving the right balance between the rules and responsiveness for you to execute your strategy. The most critical aspect of autonomy at work is a perceived feeling of choice. Whether employees can make their own decisions is less important than whether they feel that they are. Our strategic insights can help you to determine what is right for you.
In the paper we share the competencies that are:
- Always On: Only two behaviours from manager to C-Suite
- Leap: “Bridging” behaviours for moving between each management level
- Lead: Unique behaviours for every stage of management
- Leave Behinds: The “once and done” list— suitable only for where you are, not where you’re going