Management gemsFind here some gems from our monitoring of the best publications on leadership and management
Beware of injunctions to cooperate
In this interview, business organizations’ sociologist François Dupuy takes stock of the evolution of management styles, from Taylorism to cooperative models. Paradoxically, the traditional authoritarian approach seemed more propitious to commitment: the work was segmented and sequential; it was easy to take note that the expected work had been well done and to reward it.
The current models have aimed at breaking the silos. Apparently a common-sense decision: by cooperating, it becomes possible to optimize the operating methods and to ensure that the whole organization takes advantage of each unit’s progress. But this came hand in hand with an increasing disengagement of the staff. A point to remember from this analysis is notably that cooperation does not come easily. It requires an effort, by demanding that we get out of our comfort zone by placing ourselves in a situation of interdependence. It blurs the perception of the impact of our own efforts, which hampers motivation. Thus, asking your teams to cooperate is not sufficient. It is also — and maybe even foremost — through regulating and setting up processes that make cooperation natural that it will be possible to make it happen.
Source: François Dupuy : « l’injonction à la coopération est généralement stérile » [The injunction to cooperate is generally sterile], Observatoire de la compétence métier, obervatoire-ocm.com, December 2022.Share
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Watching over your anxious anticipations
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality”, Seneca noted. Stoic philosophy reminds us that the way we experience a situation is not only the reflection of the events. It is also linked to what we imagine could happen. Yet, if our fears do not always turn true, the simple fact of having imagined them has an immediate price, under the form of anxiety, stress or even paralysis.
This book invites us to become aware of this bias, and to exercise extra vigilance when the future is uncertain or when we do not control the situation. It is then time to take a break, even to talk with a person who will know how to maintain some distance, such as a coach or a friend external to this anxiety-generating context: what is the probability that the worst-case scenario, on which your fears are focused, actually happens? What is the part of delusion stemming from a projection of your fears? What do you have control over, here and now, and what should you focus on to draw some gain?
A proven approach to avoid inflicting yourself today a real suffering over hypothetical future damages.
Source: The Little Book of Stoicism, Jonas Salzgeber, self-published, 2019.Share
Talking career with your staff
In a recent Gallup survey, more than half of the employees who had resigned indicated that no one, not even their manager, asked them in the three months prior to their departure whether they were satisfied with their job, or how they saw their future in the company. And 52% underlined that their manager or their organization could have definitely done something to get them to change their mind. A preposterous number at a time when organizations face the “Great Resignation”.
Do not wait for your staff to hand in their resignation to hold real conversations on their aspirations! This article invites you to regularly address five essential questions with them:
- How would you like to develop within this organization?
- What is the meaning of your work in your view?
- How can I help you excel in your job?
- In your opinion, what could the company do better?
- Does your job enable you to make full use of your talents on a daily basis? A checklist to keep in mind to minimize the risk of seeing your best personnel leave.
Source: 5 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask Their Direct Reports, Susan Peppercorn, HarvardBusiness Review, January 2022.Share
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Banking on emotional proximity rather than the physical one
Many business leaders worry about their company culture “evaporating” since it has become difficult to get the staff back in the office after the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, an international Gartner survey shows that only 25% of salaried personnel who work remotely feel connected to their company culture. Yet, those who feel connected enjoy a significantly higher performance and have 36% more chances to remain loyal to their company.
How then to foster the adhesion to the culture when the personnels are rarely present on site and have less time for informal exchanges? The study shows that it is not as much the physical proximity as the emotional one that matters. It is less about being in touch with others than about the feeling that we are important to them.
This involves placing particular attention to each of the interactions—since they are less numerous. In particular, you should only invite to meetings those whose presence is necessary: they thus feel that their contributions are valued. It is also imperative to be in a position to spot these staff who undermine the feeling of belonging through “toxic” interactions. Questioning the emotional proximity built by each interaction thus becomes essential.
Sources: Evolve Culture & Leadership for the Hybrid Workplace, Gartner, 2022; Revitalizing Culture inthe World of Hybrid Work, Harvard Business Review, November-December 2022.Share
Seek inspiration from emergency situations to better manage the longer term
We often think that the operating mode that we adopt when facing a crisis is indeed effective in the short term, but is impaired when comparing to what should be done over the longer term.
José Andrés invites us to reconsider this hypothesis, in an interview given to McKinsey Quarterly. The founder of the World Central Kitchen NGO, who managed the extraordinary feat to deliver 170 million meals during the first six months of the war in Ukraine, draws a counter-intuitive and stimulating lesson from more than 10 years of work in emergency situations. What if, rather than going “back to normal” once the crisis over, we would seek to sustain what enabled us to get things moving that fast?
What emergency teaches us is that even when a problem is complex, simple solutions can be effective. The essential thing is to rapidly move into action. In Ukraine, WCK started by considering what could be done with the existing. The NGO did not set up a central kitchen with a complex logistics: it combined a network of 500 restaurants, caterers and food trucks. By targeting very short-term concrete results, even if not perfect ones, it set the basis for a large-scale change.
Source: It’s important to bring the spirit of emergencies to the long term, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2022.Share
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