Let's get this out of the way. We do not know how to manage people in the knowledge economy.
Over the past few months, I have talked with staff members at more than a dozen churches, small businesses, and non-profits. And what I found in many of these organizations are leaders who have adopted practices that cause the people they lead to feel 'stupid', 'dehumanized', 'emasculated', and 'unappreciated'. A preoccupation with metrics, performance reviews, and schedules are practices carried over from an industrial economy that have lost their effectiveness and are gutting the morale of knowledge-based organizations. Men and women who are strong directional leaders devolve into micromanagers. And they lead an uninspired, discouraged staff who dreads showing up for work on Monday and can't wait for the end of the day on Friday.
Can anything be done to become a place where people love to work without sacrificing the work you do together? Here is what I learned from the organizations where the staff is 'treated like grown ups' and are excited about the work.
Great leaders spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that the vision and mission of the organization are clear. They take time to connect the work of every employee to that vision and mission. They tell people why the organization exists, show them how their job contributes to the greatest good and allows competent people to figure out how to do their work.
Great leaders invest in the development of their staff. It doesn't matter whether this is through a hands-on leadership development pipeline or by providing for off-site continuing education. Great leaders assume that great workers are great learners, and they give them the tools to get better and better at their work.
Great leaders let their staff make meaningful decisions. Rather than barking orders and acting as the singular decision-maker for their team, the best leaders give competent workers the clarity they need to make great decisions. Smart, creative workers wilt in an environment where they do little more than check boxes and pass along information to the 'big boss' who makes all the decisions. Great leaders understand there are few decisions that they must make; most meaningful decisions can be made more effectively by letting the men and women closest to the situation choose the best course of action.
Clarity. Competence. Control. These are the tools of great leaders who manage well in the knowledge economy. Hire smart, creative people. Clarify the purpose and goals of your organization. Build competence by investing in the skills development of your team. Give decision-making control to the members of your team who are closest to the information.
Think baby steps here. What is the most important thing you can do today to transform your work and inspire your team?
I want you to do work better and lead like never before. If this was helpful, hit that share button below and pass it on to someone else.