Is Old School Management Style Dead?


Is Old School Management Style Dead?

Old school management style is dead. Well, that’s what I thought until I had a conversation with Bill and what I uncovered shocked me. 

Here’s Bill’s story. 

Having been made redundant from an executive position two years previously, Bill finally secured a new position in a well-regarded professional practice. Needless to say, he was ecstatic. 

He arrived early for his first day but couldn’t get to his work floor – they’d forgotten to tell him the lifts were locked down until business hours. He sat, waiting, waiting until he could finally get into the office where everyone else was already there. 

The quick, one day handover with the person leaving was, as often is the case, Bill being told all the negatives about the company and the environment. Bill was somewhat surprised because this was an executive position, but nonetheless, he politely listened but knew not to engage in the gossipy conversation. He would make up his own mind as time went on. 

At the end of the first week, Bill realised it was expected that everyone worked long hours. The culture of early to work and late to leave was worn as a badge of honour by some.

Now Bill was not one to watch the clock, and he would be first to put in extra hours to reach deadlines, but here everyone averaged 45 to 50 hours per week. That was just what was expected; everyone worked long hours, an unwritten rule.

It also became apparent that the owner was a micromanager.

Even though there were 30 employees and of these 25 professionals, the owner had everyone report directly to him, and he would stay late reading everyone’s emails. Everyone knew he did because he would make comments about different emails.

Alarm bells went off for Bill when in the third week the owner raised his voice, actually yelling at one of the staff and using profound language at them. All that was said to Bill was an off handed remark from the office lady, “so you’ve seen Mr Jones in action, but that was mild, just wait for a full show.”

The following week the owner was very unwell, coughing and spluttering over everyone, sharing all his germs. Another colleague was not much better, but the culture was such that you didn’t dare not go to work unless you were dying.

The micro-management style of this business owner kills any resemblance of a positive workplace culture for his business. I imagine he has a hard time executing a  normal business strategy, let alone opportunities for growth.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”   Peter Drucker

In a practical sense, no matter what business strategy you are trying to implement with your team, its success and efficacy will only be held back by the people implementing the plan.

If the culture does not support the strategy, then the business must be at risk to success.

What lessons can we learn from Bill’s story?

  • If you want employees that really want to do a great job and treat it as their own, you have to lead by example. This means if you want trust and commitment, then you have to give it.
  • If you are sick, stay away. No one wants your germs besides if you make everyone else sick who is going to do the work?
  • Working long hours does not produce more or better outcomes; in fact, it has been found that working long hours definitely affects the quality output.
  • Who cares if an employee has spent a few minutes here and there to send off a private email? If you suspect someone is doing the wrong thing, go ahead and check but if they are producing optimal work, why bother.

If you are guilty of being a micromanager stop and look at yourself and your business, are your employees there because they want to be or is it ‘just a job’ to them?

Through adapting your management style to one that is inclusive, you may be surprised in the business growth over time and by how much your stress levels have reduced. Old school management is dead – let’s make sure it is.

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