The Serious Side of Self Management

Want the must hire millennials make innovation a priority

Upon completing the herculean task of converting to VOIP phones in our office my wife selected Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t worry be happy” as the hold music.  I like the catchy tune but think there are too many managers taking the message literally.  A more proactive message might be “Don’t dally be different”.  Though engagement levels increased in 2014 still less than 1/3rd of employees are engaged in their jobsMore significantly the gap between retirement-approaching-traditionalists and fast-rising-millennials is 32%.

These statistics don’t infer any direct level of causation but combined with millennial values expressed in Forbes the difference desired is not just in ideology but architecture bringing me to my latest reading recommendation.

In his latest book What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation selected by Amazon editors as one of the Best Books of 2014 Dr. Hamel is unabashedly unapologetic in his attack on irresponsibility and no one is spared.  Unlike the political ranting’s that are sickeningly self-serving there are no party lines.  The party is over, the music has stopped and it is up to each of us to open our eyes to the unsustainable overindulgence that denial will never undo.

Mirror Mirror on the wall tell me the truth or not at allIf you are comfortably calculating your days to retirement, secure in seniority, indignant at interruption, serving faithfully at the altar of endless ineffectual activity, inculcated into the anarchy of anything but hierarchy and at risk of infarction I wouldn’t encourage reading this book.  But if you are willing to look in the mirror and realize that you are bigger than the bureaucracy that binds.  This book is for you.

Just as the author has convinced you to order a hemlock highball, or one for your banker, you’re taken on a tour of the meaningfully magical world of self-management.  This is not the sit alone at your office/dining table kind but detailed examples from highly integrated global giants whose business designs are both morally and monetarily self-aligning.

Mid book on Dr. Hamel uses examples from companies like Gore, Morning Star and HCLT to dispel the myth that our elephantine lack of engagement is a product of undisciplined adolescence.   Instead we are suffering from systems based an outdated sense of managerial omnipresence.  The world is too fast, too interconnected, too competitive to wade through layer upon layer of approval.  In an interview with Paul Green Jr., then responsible for training at Morning Star, Paul said “It is Easier to teach employees decision making tools than it is to equip managers with situational awareness.”  This is just one step in putting response-ability right where it ought to be.

If you are “on the path to enlightened leadership” this book will provide both understanding encouragement and specific process.  If you would like just a taste of what has consistently fueled double digit growth in an industry known for 1% annual improvement take a few minutes to compare your annual review process with a Peer Powered Process that is astoundingly engaging.

If you’re enjoying the mindless tradition of cut and paste hours of waste (as specified by policy to be demeaningly administered by all (fill in your blank) you won’t like this.

If instead you would like something truly fair, helpful, specific and totally transparent imagine this alternative.   First each January teams are evaluated by their peers as to their specific performance and progress as they directly relate to the quantifiable objectives set out by the employees (colleagues) themselves.   This first group review might take an entire day and is attended by anyone impacted by the group’s performance and can be quite contentious.  Though rigorous and time consuming the inclusion and transparency pay off in an irreplaceable foundation of trust.  The freedom of self-management has the responsibility of accountability.

This is just one of many steps to create a highly integrated system where, as revealed in Dr. Hamel’s interview with one Morning Star employee “Nobody’s your boss and everybody’s your boss”.

Imagine the innovation, engagement and growth of an organization where everyone is an entrepreneur.    In upcoming articles I will cover:

  1. Seven uncontestable benefits of self-managed teams.
  2. Specifics for team and individual evaluations.
  3. Using a “virtual currency” employee investment market to evaluate plans, commitments, goals, priorities.
  4. How to handle disciplinary issues and collegial disagreement.
  5. Drawbacks to self-management
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