Under New Management

Imagine repairing your notebook with tools from the Stone Age. It probably wouldnt work. Such tools were perfectly fine for those times, but today you need something better. The same goes for management strategies. The ones from the Stone Age can be used, but they are much less efficient.

During the last few years, the nature of management changed drastically. More and more routine tasks are being done by computers, while humans take on creative ones. Moreover, these tasks are not manual; instead, they are intellectual (like coding websites). We are now operating with thoughts and imagination and not material things. There are certain regulations in this kind of work of course. This article will help you get adjusted to new rules of the game.

Happy employees mean happy customers

Do you know the saying customer is always right? Well, thats not true anymore. Your primary concern now is the happiness of your employees. And your clients will appreciate the fact that you care for your workers.

As a matter of fact, a happy employee usually means a happy customer. For example, if you make sure that your workers enjoy what they are doing, it will keep them motivated to be sociable and joyful.

If you still have your doubts, I have a research to support my words.

In the last year, Edward Norton and Casey Affleck from the University of Toronto published a big article in which they proved the connection between employee happiness and customer happiness. The study demonstrates that clients who had been communicating with happy employees rated their service higher, even if the contact was short.

So its a good idea to take care of your employees because theyll try to do the same for your customers.

Do you want to know how to do it?

First of all, you should trust your workers. Try to get rid of some strict rules and dont tail your employees. Nobody likes micromanagement.

Instead, you should make a few easy rules that will allow your workers to manage their time. For instance, Netflix is one of the companies that dont have a strict working schedule and vacation policy. Workers there make their own schedules and can take a time off whenever they want to. They are also in charge of the travel expenses. The only rule in Netflix is to act in companys best interests. No wonder that such innovations decreased their costs. Whats more, their employees are now interested in investing in their company, not moving on.

Invite your team to participate in hiring, and pay disengaged employees to move on

One man does not make the team. So the perfect resume is not the most important part of hiring somebody. You should also ensure that the new employee will be able to fit in.

The fact that someone succeeded at one company doesnt mean that it will happen again at your company. This concerns even top managers who change workplaces. The reason is that there must be a trustworthy team behind every big man. And the efficiency of a team can suffer if one person doesnt fit in. Recent research showed that a new man is likely to bring up new clashes in the team.

So even if you are used to hiring people on your own, it is actually a good idea to let the whole team in on this process. For example, Whole Foods makes sure that a possible candidate works with the team for a few weeks. After this period, a team decides on whether to accept a candidate or not.

Although, even if you perfect your hiring process, there will still be someone who drags behind. If you want to boost the effectiveness, it is better if you pay them to leave your company. Such disinterested employees are not only counterproductive, but they also find many excuses to skip work, and can even influence other uncorrupted workers. They probably only stay in your company because they have already spent so much time there. As you know, it is not easy to find a job and learn the right skills to do it, so they are afraid to admit that their energy was spent in vain. So you can actually help such people by offering them money to quit. Money can help these people get over losing a job.

Manage your company flexibly and let your employees organize themselves

Many people think for a living in the modern economy. What it means is that instead of hand labor they write articles, conduct researches, and design things. The official term for these people is knowledge workers, and they have a significant influence on todays management.

The reason is that inflexible timetable and casual hierarchy dont work for knowledge workers. Therefore, managers have to organize such activities more transiently. Thats because such work is way more spontaneous than any hand labor, so its much harder to make a functioning schedule for them.

Usually, knowledge workers change their objectives depending on the current project. So it is totally possible for someone to be in charge of one task but do only minor corrections on another one.

In short, knowledge work revolves around projects instead of job descriptions. As a result, such job descriptions dont work at all for companies that respect their flexibility.

To tell the truth, it will be more beneficial for your business to give some freedom to employees so they can adapt to changes in projects themselves instead of waiting for a confirmation from the manager.

When the new project appears, they will be able to make project teams by themselves. Of course, all the employees must know what experience others have. Such knowledge will be mandatory for these groups to function and be productive.

Research shows that the most efficient employees are the ones that feel themselves in charge of what theyre doing. Their motivation is way more significant if it comes from the inside and not from things like salary or appreciation.

You may think that there is no place for a manager in this modern world. But the task of a manager just shifted a little bit towards helping these workers achieve such state of self-organization. One way of doing it is to create a proper working atmosphere for them. You will know how to do it soon.

Let your employees choose their workspace, and limit email use in your company

Facebook proudly presented the largest open office space ever created. Will this be the future of business?

When creating workplaces, it is recommended to combine open spaces with closed ones to give your employees a chance to decide themselves. A recent study by Leo San Luis and Igor Antonov showed that although open offices are perfect for productive work, people there are mole likely to feel the lack of privacy. They also call in sick more often.

Because both types of offices have their pros and cons, it is advisable just to have both. This is what Facebook is doing right now, even though they appreciate their open spaces so much. The idea behind it is that workers can choose an appropriate space for them and the project they are working on.

The same study shows that employees really like such freedom.

All the fuss around open spaces promotes them even more. In truth, the same goes for advantages of emails. Restricting an access to email will boost your workers efficiency.

Email is probably the greatest source of attention diversion in todays world. It is proved that usually an employee checks his mail almost every two minutes. Of course it will distract anybody. Try writing something and checking your email at the same time.

This was the reason for French company Atos SE to replace email for an internal social network. Such network allows workers to get the information they actually need, not some inconsistent outside nonsense.

Work environment is one thing, but you will have to look wider to succeed.

Foster contact with other companies

Do you know about Silicon Valley? But do you also know about their biggest competitor, Bostons Route 128?

They were actually there long before Silicon Valley, but they were held back by their non-competitive clauses.

Here is the reason why.

It actually hurts companies if they dont allow information to flow.

Non-compete clause hinders former employees to work for their rivals is they change company to secure its secrets.

In practice, any company needs to exchange knowledge to survive. Such knowledge can travel with people.

If you let your employees work for your rival, it will allow them to gather ideas from all over the places, thus boosting the development of the whole area.

Silicon Valley is a perfect example of such tendencies. All the companies there allowed workers to transfer their knowledge to other companies, which boosted the progress in innovations using other peoples ideas. Therefore, cooperation helped them evolve.

As you can see, using non-compete clause stops you from getting knowledge from all over the places. This is what happened in Boston.

Non-compete clause became so popular that information flow almost stopped there. As a result, Route 128 began striving drastically and was not able to hire any new stars.

Of course, companies must rival in some ways, but they should also cooperate in other ways. In order for such connections to work you should try and stay in contact with your former employees.

Research proved that businesses which have connections with others are more prosperous. Assembling such system of former workers will grant you a rigid base in your industry.

But even if your business is already closely related to others, there are still many ways you can go to improve it.

Give personal, timely feedback and be transparent about wages

By now you must have learned a few things about modern management strategies. But I still have a couple more for you. One of them is about performance rankings.

They are not so effective anymore. A lot of companies conduct them once per year. They invest much in it, bet get little in return.

Microsoft actually proved that performance rankings are counterproductive. The reason is that workers tended to take less demanding tasks and were less likely to acknowledge their mistakes. Moreover, it made them contest one another instead of working together.

For this reason Microsoft changed performance rankings to individual and well-timed responses.

Every once in a while, a Microsoft manager talks personally with workers about their cooperation with colleagues, their plans for the future and their performance since the last meeting.

This way everyone feels more appreciated, the rivalry is almost eliminated and workers are stimulated to advance. Such well-timed responses are extremely important as your employees are eager to hear about their progress.

Some of them may also be interested in the salaries their colleagues get, and it is best to keep clarity on this matter. Being honest about salaries is a good way to show employees your honesty and avert unnecessary envy between colleagues.

If you keep wages in secret, your workers can have the wrong opinion that they earn less then they deserve. It will create unneeded rivalry between colleagues and prevent cooperation.

For example, Whole Foods allows their workers to get the information on their colleagues wages. Their collaboration strives because of that.

Final Summary

Todays knowledge workers need creativity, cooperation and encouragement. It is far away form the classic management strategy. Switch rigid timetables to independency and remove hierarchy in favor of versatility. Look after your workers and you will be reworded.

Here is a useful advice:

If you have an organogram try and keep it adaptable. In todays business world there are no strict job descriptions. Instead, there are projects that people revolve around. It means that organizational chart always changes. So use a temporal marker instead of a permanent one. Or a pencil.