New Management Role – Enabler of Work

Management barking orders to front-line staff is the visual I get when visiting organizations of all shapes and sizes.  Management is supposed to manage and workers . . . well, they work.  Unfortunately, management has not changed much in the role they do over the past 100 years or so. Management is not quite as blatant as past years (e.g., no beatings or yelling).  But the premise of management thinking has not changed.

Gone are the days when workers became managers or at least not as prevalent.  MBA graduates skip the work piece and go right to management . . . without knowledge of the work.  A travesty with inglorious repercussions to improving things.  Sadly, this is today’s management.

However, there is a new way to manage that offers hope.  Instead of the pathetic management style that entraps or disables work, there are those few that can embrace enabling work.  This begins with understanding doesn’t come from a book, but with knowledge of customer demands and purpose.  This leads to a realization that decision-making is best left to those with knowledge.  As knowledge comes from the work and not spreadsheets.

Ultimately, this means that workers have the best knowledge, but management has the ability to change the system in which they work.  Improvement of any system requires unprecedented cooperation between workers and management.  Workers identify what disrupts flow and management removes these barriers.  Simple as that, except that managers are too involved with wasteful activities to recognize or listen to what barriers exist.

Management as an enabler requires different thinking about the role of management.  It is not big IT projects that perpetually create more failure demand and add costs or changing the system based on assumptions, ideologies or history.  It means a role that understands what gets in the way of customers trying to purchase your product or service.

There is no lack of those things that create hurdles for customers and they cost companies extraordinary amounts of money.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for  Download free from “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at

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