Less Management Equals More Success?

In my last post I discussed the work of Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. Their research indicates that worker’s well-being depends on a manager’s ability and willingness to facilitate accomplishments by removing obstacles, providing help, and acknowledging strong effort. They show that the most important way to engage people at work is to support them making progress in meaningful work.

This is the research and it provides direction for mangers. But what does it mean? It means more than that employees want to succeed at a task, it means that they want to achieve mastery. People instinctively want to do tasks and do them well. We are hard-wired to take on puzzles and to solve them. With such wiring people instinctively feel good about themselves when they are mastering their work. The good feeling also attaches itself to the organization that gave them the opportunity to succeed.

So my view of the work of management is to set up systems that support people, structure the system to measure organizational success, and then get out of the way. Do less “management” of your employees. Whenever managers are “managing” people they are getting in the way of creativity, worker ownership, teaming, and high performance.

It is what Daniel Pink talked about in his book, Drive. Managers ought to get out of the management business and find ways to engage their employees. The keys to a successful company, at least one where there is thinking involved, are in employees gaining increased amounts of AUTONOMY, MASTERY, and PURPOSE.

When people take ownership of their work you don’t have to “manage” them. You cheer them on as they achieve the goals of the organization. People WANT to do it and it makes them feel good. The work of Amabile and Kramer, as well as the research reported by Pink, coalesce into powerful proof that people want mastery. I will talk more about mastery in the coming posts.

It is a funny thing that people can’t make themselves go to sleep. What people actually do is set the right conditions for sleeping. You know: get comfortable, go to bed at the same time, turn off the lights, go to the bathroom, and don’t think about work. And then, it happens. You can’t force it and you can’t manage it. You just set the right conditions and it happens.

Tom DeMaio, PhD

www.DeMaioPsychology.com

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