The 7 steps to rewiring your management style

By Mark LeBusque. Published at Jul 21, 2020, in Features

If you purchased a 100-year old house that had never been rewired, what do you think would happen to it?

There is a very good prospect that it would burn to the ground, as the old wiring would not be suitable for many of the more modern gadgets you would be running in a house of today, not to mention the out of date materials used to carry the power to these gadgets. Imagine you’ve finished a renovation and were faced with the heartbreak of your investment burning to the ground because you failed to attend to the most important upgrade in the project?

Anyone buying an old house would understand that a sensible investment would be to make the “rewiring” their number one priority and ensure they got value and a return on their investment.

What does this have to do with managing human beings you ask?

My answer is simple.

It’s time to rewire our 100-year-old approach to managing humans

Most managers today are still wired for success using a management system that was created for a time when we viewed humans as units of labour and outputs only. You know – stand in the production line, banging in those pop-rivets, assembling their part of the product, clocking on and off at a precise time and going to the factory every day to hit their numbers.

We live in different times now and the challenge has been to move from an old system that has rewarded mainly hierarchy driven, short-term KPI focussed managers, into a new way where they can hold their nerve and embrace a new way of engaging the very humans who will help them be successful.

It has got me curious over time to want an answer to the following question:

Why is it that we keep operating a 100-Year Old Management System that desperately needs rewiring from a Robotic to a more Human approach and expect that it won’t burn down?

I want to challenge the notion that only technical competence and a robotic approach to human management has a place in a more humanistic world. It’s old wiring and the ‘house’ has caught fire and those who have been rewarded by the old system are continuing to fuel the fire by:

● promoting technical experts and watching them fail miserably at managing another human being

● striking fear into humans by stifling experimentation and any form of challenge to authority

● employing other robots “just like them” to keep the status quo

● claiming credit or interfering in the work of their team members and creating frustration and eventually employee attrition.

This approach creates disengaged, demotivated and dejected employees who make decisions to toe the line and do the minimum required, or move on and drive up costs in hiring replacements in their roles and training them. The peak body for Human Resources in the US, SHRM estimates that the cost of replacing a salaried employee is 6-9 months of their annual salary. That’s enough to start a few sparks in the CFO’s office as people costs blow out.

Like any upgrade it needs a foundation and that starts with trusting implicitly those who you manage. I went with these twelve words as the start of building the foundation

You don’t have to gain my trust, you have to lose it........

From there the rewiring can commence.

If you are caught up in the old way of managing humans then I suggest that you consider these seven steps to rewiring your management style.

Create a Safety Net – encourage safe experimentation, exploration and the odd challenge of your beliefs.

Clear Purpose – be really clear with your team members on why they are relevant and how they contribute to the team, department and organisation's objectives.

Create More Leadership Opportunities – lose the idea that leadership is the right of the few in high places, and embrace the concept that all humans are capable of demonstrating leadership.

Listen and Learn – get to know the humans in your care, spend time building deep connection and arrange a weekly social chit-chat session.

Balance is Critical – give your people permission to live a balanced life, set up a balance-buddy process and incorporate non-work related goals into a performance plan.

Unlock Potential – have real career conversations and do not pigeon hole people in order to serve your own agenda. Make annual career conversations count not just compliance.

Stretch to Learn – encourage your people to try things they have never done before and embrace the “comfortably uncomfortable” space. Let them host a meeting or deliver a presentation.

It’s not some wild theory or new management model – it’s an experiment that Mark undertook when managing a team that resulted in significant improvements in employee engagement and business results. It has now become a hugely successful program that is changing the way that managers “turn up” by adding the important concept of “Being” to enhance the effectiveness of “Doing”.

It started with a simple premise:

What would happen if it treated my people like human beings?

It was a definite rewiring of an old style that was based upon a 100-year-old system that’s wiring can no longer provide the spark to enthuse, engage and excite the very humans who have so much more to offer.

It’s time to rewire your management style – don’t wait until you are left with a pile of ashes and a lost opportunity.

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