Just as employees of the future will bear little resemblance to employees of the past, so too will future managers be different–if they exist at all. Modern management began when men like Frederick Winslow Taylor, father of the scientific management movement, began to analyze and shape labor. These management gurus believed that the head and the hands were separate, that only well-born and well-schooled managers could make decisions, and only the lower classes could stand the drudgery of carrying out that work. Employees could only handle doing what they were told; they were not even capable of thinking about their work.
Looked at another way, the prevailing wisdom held that management needed to enforce control and coerce employees to get their jobs done. Workers, according to this logic, prioritize job security over satisfaction. They will avoid laboring if they can because they dislike their jobs.
A more helpful perspective presumes that employees are ambitious and self-motivated, as naturally inclined to work as they are to play or rest. Everyone has the potential for creative problem solving, precisely the kind of work organizations today need.
TEN PRINCIPLES OF THE FUTURE MANAGER
The future manager is going to have to challenge the traditional ideas of management and adapt to the future employee. In order to be effective, the future manager must:
- Be a leader.
- Follow from the front by encouraging and supporting employees and removing roadblocks.
- Understand technology.
- Lead by example.
- Embrace vulnerability.
- Believe in sharing and collective intelligence.
- Challenge convention and be a fire starter.
- Practice real-time recognition and feedback.
- Be conscious of personal boundaries.
- Adapt to the future employees.
Hierarchies and organization charts, borrowed by corporations from the military, no longer serve a purpose. At one time, perhaps, top management could control the flow of information and the front-line employees of various departments had no need to communicate with one another. The push toward openness and transparency, facilitated by technology, as well as the effort to make organizations more agile and adaptable, works against the desire for information control and hierarchy.
In short, traditional management has too few people controlling too much, leaving little room for the mass of employees to contribute their wisdom and creativity. It focuses on the wrong things, such as getting people to show up for work and complete repetitive tasks, rather than outputs. It leaves little room for experimentation. Traditional management had its time and purpose, but the future manager will take a different path entirely.