Re-wiring your management style

By Mark LeBusque. Published at Nov 24, 2020, in Features

How could I stand by and watch my house on fire – Kamisese Mara

If you purchased a 100-year old house that had never been rewired, there is a very good prospect in time that it would burn to the ground. Anyone buying an old house would be crazy not to “rewire” their number one priority to ensure they got value and a return on their investment.

Why do 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?

It’s time to challenge the notion that technical competence and a Robotic approach to Human Management has a place in a more Humanistic world. 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
  • confusing titles and organisational hierarchy with leadership and stifling those closest to the customers to undertake leadership acts that will benefit them and the organisation
  • employing other robots “just like them”
  • doing the work of their team members and creating frustration and eventually employee attrition
  • espousing that “people matter” and are “our greatest asset” but act in a totally different way when it comes to protecting themselves i.e. their bonuses, big offices and position on the organisational chart.

Here I propose a simple 7 Step Process to “Rewire Managers” from Robots to Humans. It starts with laying a foundation of Trust and then is built on fundamentally rewiring from the old system to a more human one.

It challenges the Managers to look “hard into their mirror” to understand that they must “Humannovate” to create a differentiation in a world where humans are now “commoditised robots”. Investment in their development needs to be repositioned to look inward rather than outward.

It’s not some wild theory or new management model – it’s the experiment I 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”.

If only I didn’t have to deal with the people stuff that comes with it. Dealing with people is hard enough at the best of times. Why didn’t they teach me about this at business school?

Now is the time to lead boldly and move from the technical to the human approach. From some hollow words to real action, talking the talk to walking the talk.

If you are to make a conscious shift to becoming a truly "Human Manager" try adding any of the following to your current way of looking after those under your care:

  1. Be truly present when interacting with work colleagues; particularly your direct reports. No phones or laptop tapping will cut it right now.
  2. Take a genuine interest in what they do outside of work.
  3. Be open to saying “I don’t know the answer right now”.
  4. Find 30 minutes a week to engage in social chit-chat with your entire team (keep it non-task related).
  5. Ask a team member for help or some advice on a challenge you are facing.
  6. Offer a team member some advice on a challenge they are facing, work or personal.
  7. Recognise great individual and team results and milestones specifically and in a timely manner.
  8. Take a team member out for a virtual coffee without scheduling it two weeks in advance in the diary. Be more creative and open to the idea of “winging it” and “living in the moment”.
  9. Keep your commitments to regular coaching times with your employees. Personal development is still essential in these times.
  10. Ask them what they enjoyed at work and achieved outside of work - flip it around.

Being a human manager is something that we should all embrace. It's not about holding hands and singing kumbuyah and being "soft and fluffy" but rather genuine, caring, firm but fair and open to the possibility that great results will occur when we do the simple things well.

Right now, your people, business, family and community will benefit from adding more human to your leadership style.

The alternative will end in catastrophe the longer you ignore the old wiring.

What's your choice?

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