A perspective worth considering: what should middle management actually be doing?
Think of the role of the direct manager in performance management. Ultimately, it’s not about the system. It’s not about the form. It’s about whether your direct manager helps you understand the value of your work and how it fits into a broader strategy. It’s about coaching. It’s about real-time feedback delivered by a human. I think we’ve undervalued those elements, tried to systematize them away with data, with systems, with tools. Meanwhile, workers are asking for better leaders, better apprenticeships, better coaching. When we try to disintermediate the role of a good midlevel leader, I think we do this at our peril.
A peek into the creative life of advertising legend David Ogilvy:
If you ever find a man who is better than you are — hire him. If necessary, pay him more than you pay yourself
His principles on morale are worth reading again.
Sometimes, the best thing management can do is to get out of the way, writes Francis Gouillart in his blog on co-creation. Invited to assist in helping the local UK unemployment office in Harlesden engage with the ethnic communities in the region, Gouillart explains that overcoming his initial urge to jump on a plane back to Boston was worthwhile. An interesting read, if you are in any sort of leadership roles.
Thus says Scott Adams, referring to a video game company called Valve who have 400 employees, & no management structure, & his own start-up (about which he’s sharing very little, at least yet). He reckons that the
need for management will shrink- at least for some type of businesses – because entrepreneurs have the tools to make fewer hiring mistakes in the first place
There’s a reason that Scott Adams’ Dilbert cartoons resonate with most people working in industry (or even otherwise). Scott’s latest missive on his blog calls the bluff on “charisma”, “success”, “leadership”, & “management”. In true Scott Adams’ style, he backs it up with his reasoning.
Consider the thousands of different books on management/success/leadership. If any of this were real science, all managers would learn the same half-dozen secrets to success and go on to great things. The reality of the business world is more like infinite monkeys with typewriters. Sooner or later a monkey with an ass pimple will type something that makes sense and every management expert in the world will attribute the success to the ass pimple.