Don’t do it to people

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One person’s management hero is another’s villain

Management involves getting the most efficient utility from people and resources;

Leadership involves getting people to do things they would not otherwise choose to do.”

EVEN IF TRUE
DOES THAT MAKE IT RIGHT?

In a nutshell the statements on management and leadership summarise conventional wisdom  accrued since 1900, first through the ‘scientific management’ methods of Frederick Taylor and later the alternative ‘human relations’ approach advocated by Elton Mayo. The latter’s approach was apparently set to counteract the rigidity and hierarchies of the former. Unfortunately both approaches have the same defective focus – ‘doing it to people’. They are both a reflection of a command-and -control mindset which many would percieve as ‘managerialism‘.

Improvement comes from understanding the system and making meaningful improvements to ensure better outcomes. Doing it to people does not achieve this. Whilst efficiency in car manufacture  increases, so do the additional costs of salaries to compensate boring jobs, and industrial relations and (at best) static levels of quality – in other words total costs go up.

Whilst most managers and leaders do not want to be working for the ‘dark side’ and genuinely want the better for their teams, they must understand that if they follow the scientific/human relations approach the consequences of their actions are: de-motivation, a loss of dignity, a diminished sense of purpose, and reduction of productivity in their staff.

In knowledge industries, additional contributions to the total cost of this disruption is hidden, for example losses of skilled workers, high staff turnover and recruitment and so on.

The choice is clear: managers and leaders need to find a better way…

Reading:

Hanlon G. (2015) The Dark Side of Management: A secret history of management theory, Routledge

Roscoe, P. (2015) How the takers took over from the makers. Times Higher Education, 26 November, p48

Seddon, J. (2003). Freedom from Command and Control. Buckingham: Vanguard Press.

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