For most managers that is what you represent . . . obliviousness. A missed opportunity to connect with the work and the worker happens every day. Too busy to be bothered with the goings-on that surround the business.
There are performance appraisals to write, targets to hit, activity numbers to report, and important decisions to be made. As you move up the hierarchy of the organization it gets worse and the more layers in management the more dysfunction. Lost in the quagmire of bureaucracy and compliance to the wishes of the manager above them.
The manager revels in the appeals to their authority where power becomes more important than knowledge. Workers keen to get ahead build rapport with the hierarchy in public, but in comraderie with the fellow worker laugh at the ignorance of manager’s thinking. Until, of course, the ignorance of management decisions wreaks havoc on the worker domain which happens with alarming frequency.
Entrapping technology, scripts, rules and more to dumb down the worker as these perceived misfits are incapable of directing their own work. Rules that keep the worker from giving a customer a $5 credit in fear of giving away the store. While managers smartly package away mortgages and almost put the economy into depression. The inequity of the situation would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
Often, I wonder had management been blessed with compassion and understanding, would their ever had been the need for unions. The barons of past generations were ruthless and set forth a poor example for the generations of managers that followed. It seems we have become less ruthless as time has passed. This recession with unemployment of 10% makes one wonder whether we are taking steps back as organizations show increasing profit at the expense of the unemployment rate.
If and/or when management discovers that knowledge is gained at the points of transaction with the workers and customers they may want to spend more time there. Spending more time in the work with the worker, managers can help clear the path to work that is efficient and effective. Awkard moments at the beginning, but both manager and worker benefit and as a result so does the customer.
Studying the needs of the customer, worker and manager can design a better system to service them. A happy ending for all.
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Tripp Babbitt is a columnist (Quality Digest and IQPC), speaker, and consultant to private and public service industry.Share This:
I always enjoy your writings for their clarity, conciseness, vocabulary and, most of all their message. But then, I am a systems thinker myself, and as the saying goes in Belgium “It is not difficult to preech for one’s own church”. Or as John Seddon would put it: real, lasting learning only takes place when one lives the experience, works the work. Learning through coercion or rationalisation is far less successful.
This being said, I hope that you keep up the good work. And that at some time in the near future, I become as prolific as you in writing catchy blogs still hoping that the unconvinced get curious enough to put themselves in the bath.
How should we make sense of this? In your experience, what approaches have non-managing people used to improve the situation? How might one engage with management to bring about change – is a bottom-up approach feasible, or must one simply wait or leave?
A tough spot as you are in the system. Requires leadership to make the changes we are talking about as they will certainly change the job of the manager and worker. A non-manager has a chance if they can get management to get curious about the changes we are talking about. They are massive and need to have managers curious first. The reward is greater profit and a much improved culture.