Success at Work

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Organizations need employees to be more engaged to reap the benefits of their full potential. Even employees who work hard can leave their brains at home, thus not contributing much in the way of new ideas.

Why do so many managers struggle to manage employee performance? They may agree that employees are their organization’s most valuable resource, but few are skilled at dealing with poor performers.

Julian Birkinshaw's desire to reinvent management is to be applauded. His article, "Reinventing Management" in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Ivey Business Journal Online is a welcome beginning, a useful start to a dialogue that urgently demands high profile attention.

To be effective, managers must do two things well: (1) achieve their targets and (2) make the best possible use of all resources. The second criterion is complex and needs to be examined closely.

The popular image of management is past its sell-by date, born of faulty thinking from the late 1970s. Management is long overdue for an upgrade. It is time to be rid of the distorting myths about management:

What is the meaning of management today? Everyone manages something, even if it just themselves, their personal finances or their time.

Effective managers get the best return from all available resources including their own time and talent. They challenge themselves to justify priorities in hard business terms. They question why they should do a particular task now or whether it should be delegated. Less effective managers spend more time doing than managing.

Post-heroic management offers a model of selflessness in organizations to replace servant leadership, which has a core of truth: that people in charge of others should be relatively selfless.

Managers occupy roles with authority over others. But when knowledge workers manage themselves, management is a process in which all can engage. Yet, in our efforts to define management, we persist in calling it a role, thus for managers only.