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A Dramatic Shift in the Role of Management?

Anyone who has been around long enough to have taken any of the fine courses offered by the American Management Association in the 60″s and 70s will remember the answer to “What is the role of Management?” That answer: “to plan, organize and control.” There was a tendency to assume that meant that managers were 100% responsible for these functions and employees were there to act accordingly. This blog is not necessarily intended to totally cast out that answer but rather to say that there has been a dramatic shift in and clarification of management”s role.

More and more, managers see their job as creating an environment where their people can be successful as a whole organization in planning, organizing and controlling. These managers see themselves as facilitators, clarifiers and communicators that get everyone involved in success. They believe that their colleagues and employees have to buy into and “own” the vision and the company plan in part by helping to design the plan as well as implement it.

These managers build organizations where people are working in their strengths rather than spending a lot of effort correcting weaknesses. They are, as Jim Collins said so forcefully stated in his landmark book Good to Great” “the right people in the right seats on the bus.”

Clearly, someone still has to be the boss and decisions have to be made. No decision is without its detractors. Someone has to set the vision and lead. But the whole workforce is part of the plan and of the solution and not just “assets.” The task of hiring and organizing has become much more the placing the right people in the right jobs and no longer trying to train them to be something they are not. It seems like a pretty big shift after all.