Main roles of management

The 2 main roles of senior management should be to

- select the staff with the "right attitude" (rather than skill set only) and who fit into the culture of the organisation

- create an environment in which both staff and the organisation can flourish

i) "People are your most important asset". Right? Wrong!!!!!! Right people are your most important asset. The right people are those who exhibit the desired behaviours and attitudes, as a natural extension of their character and attitude, regardless of any control and incentive system. The challenge is not to train people to share your core values. The real challenge is to find people who already share your core values and to create an environment that so strongly reinforces those values that the people who do not share them should not get hired. An example of this is that we cannot teach people the work ethic - either a person has it or he/she does not. On the other hand, we can teach people specific work skills, ie

"...hire for attitude and train for skill..."

Alan Joyce (Jetstar) as quoted by James Hall, 2006

Right people are eager to learn, possess a strong personality and have a pro-active attitude. These characteristics are more important than expertise, skills and experience.

Recruitment and promotion should focus on cultural fit, right attitude, values, energy and vibes. Based on an Australian survey, some common methods to test cultural fit include

DDI Australia as quoted by Brad Hatch, 2005

ii) The second role of senior management is to create an environment in which both staff and the organisation can flourish

"- behavioural interview questions on values (91%)

- panel interview (61%)

- reference check against values (58%)

- informal meeting (49%)

- questions specially targeting values (43%)

- cultural (motivational) fit questionnaires (39%)

- behavioural simulations (24%)

- personality inventory (24%)"

Top management must stimulate the organisation, not control it. It creates the environment:

- by providing strategic direction;

- by encouraging learning;

- by ensuring there are mechanisms for transferring the lessons learned;

- by challenging behaviours, and unleashing new ways of thinking, by demonstrating to people that they are capable of achieving more than they think they can achieve, and they should never be satisfied with where they are now;

- by encouraging staff to try something different"

Harvard Business Review, 1999

For example, there are growing number of organisations in which the competitive advantage lies in the ability to create an organisation driven not by cost efficiencies but ideas and intellectual know-how. It is important to realize that the psychological relationship management have with their "clever people" or knowledge workers is very different from the ones in traditionally-framed organisations, ie

"...clever people want a high degree of organisational protection and recognition that their ideas are important. They also demand the freedom to explore and fail......the attitudes that clever people display toward their organisations reflect their sense of self-worth......most of them are scornful of the language of hierarchy. Although they are acutely aware of the salaries and bonuses attached to their work, they often treat promotion with indifference or even contempt......they will want to stay close 'to the real work', often to the detriment of relationships with the people who are supposed to be managing. This doesn't mean that they don't care about status - they do, often passionately. The same researcher who affects not to know his job title may insist on being called ' doctor' or 'professor'..."

Bob Goffee et al, 2007

Furthermore, knowledge workers do not want to be distracted by the administrative machinery, such as organisational rules and politics, from their key value adding activities. It is important to create an atmosphere in which rules and norms are simple and universally accepted. Furthermore, management needs to realize that some of the best ideas will come from outside the organisation. This reinforces the need for knowledge workers to pursue private efforts that will have organisational payoffs. Organisations such as 3M, Google, Genetech and Lockheed allow staff to pursue those projects in organisation time. For example, Google allows staff to spend one day a week on their own startup ideas. On the other hand, the knowledge workers need to acknowledge their interdependence on others in the organisation.

Do not forget the physical work environment as it can enhance or hinder issues, such as harmony, creativity and productivity. This is very important owing to the amount of time we spend in the workspace.


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