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Posted by on Jun 1, 2013 in Featured, Leadership, Weekend Post | 9 comments

Undoing the Shame of Management

Shame of Management

Management is the bully on the playground.

At least it is for too many managers in too many workplaces. Management has become captive to its disciplines of monitoring, evaluating, planning and controlling.

Consequently, too many managers cannot see a different way to manage. More specifically, managers have grown blind to regarding their employees as people. Instead, employees have become mere resources to be controlled, directed, scheduled and monitored.

The disciplines of running a business have mistakenly been attributed to what’s needed to lead employees. We must undo this shame of management. Today we ought to know better that people cannot be led with disciplines essential to forecast sales of widgets or services.

Employees have become mere resources to be controlled, directed, scheduled and monitored.

No, we need to lead people with disciplines grounded in our humanity – the actions that evoke passion, compassion, joy, optimism and enthusiasm to do great works.

As human beings we have always rejected the actions that treat us like lifeless robots. So why should the disciplines of management continue to be confused with the disciplines of leadership? The time is now to separate the two.

We must re-evaluate to course correct and re-learn the art and business of leading people to do great works on behalf of the organization.

Managers manage spreadsheets, project plans, and sales forecasts. Managers lead people through inspiration to want to achieve the needed results of projects and sales forecasts. Managers treat people as human beings… not invisible, faceless assets absent from balance sheets.

The convenience of treating people like resources is no longer tolerable. It is far easier to treat employees as merely replaceable cogs on an assembly line. Of course most workers today are knowledge workers and have nothing to do with assembly lines.

It is the astute manager who recognizes the shift and reclaims the art inherent in managing and leading people: treating employees as people with aspirations, ideas essential for business success.

We need to lead people with disciplines grounded in our humanity – the actions that evoke passion, compassion, joy, optimism and enthusiasm to do great works.

To undo the shame of management is to recognize that it takes people to make business run… not strategy, spreadsheets, or some outdated viewpoint that people are resources.

Note: The phrase “shame of management” is not my creation. I picked up the phrase after listening to a talk by the scholar R. Edward Freeman at Conscious Capitalism 2013.

 

Shawn Murphy

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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  • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

    It’s like listening to a great broken record. You keep putting out fantastic material, my friend. This is no exception. I sure hope some Leaders & management people, read and apply. At least some of this.
    When are you coming to Florida ?
    Take CARE,
    Al

    • shawmu

      Hi Al, a great broken record, eh? I’ll take that as a good thing. ;) Not sure that I’ll get to Florida this year. I’ll let you know if that does happen. Take care, Shawn

      • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

        Ha. Yes, Its a good thing. Just some more “amazing” stuff that comes from this brain. LOL. Thanks again brother, for all you do and the difference you and Ted are making. fantastic.

  • danperezfilms

    The manager is always the bad guy, yes? It’s never the people he/she has to manage that are ever the problem, right? Your concept sounds great and was obviously written to get an “Amen!” or two from the congregation but it’s up against a formidable foe…human nature.
    Human beings in general have a pack mentality, are self-centered, are motivated by status, and have a tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Oh, and these aren’t my opinions, they’re based on numerous psychological studies. Oh, and let’s not forget the political, religious, and social lines people draw in the sand. I mean, you have noticed all the wars and bloodshed in this world over the past several centuries, yes? OK.

    This is what that nefarious manager has to deal with on a daily basis.

    As long as people are driven to outdo each other with a bigger house and car, we’ll always have managers who can take advantage of that and treat us like “lifeless robots” by hanging our paychecks and health benefits over our heads. Anybody who’s ever worked for any period of time in the corporate world world (especially in an executive position) knows this.

    It doesn’t make it right but that’s the reality of the situation in many work environments. Your idea certainly sounds lovely but like the theories of many “consultants”, life coaches, and motivational speakers, they’re not grounded in reality.

    But as long as the poor overworked masses eat it up, why stop?

    • shawmu

      Hi Dan,

      For as many crappy acts we humans commit, there are also those amazing stories showing our resiliency, kindness, and humility. I see it as a choice on what we choose to focus.

      Indeed there is research showing the shadow sides, or whatever you want to call it, of our humanity. It will always be the case. There is research that shows the opposite of what you cite.

      We could go back and forth to one-up the other, but that is pointless. What I’m interested in is what we can do to help managers tap into those aspects of our human nature that help ourselves and others do good and create work environments that help pull the best out of their employees. In the end it’s a choice.

      Shawn

  • Jill Beech

    Enjoyed this article, good managers see potential in others and take pride when they see them realise it. Sustaining consistency through the most challenging of times, giving hope and shared purpose to the team when they feel they have lost their way. The image of a head in the sand is relative, it’s how long it stays there and what happens when they lift it out, dust off the sand and get on with the job that makes the difference.

    • shawmu

      Jill, excellent point about how long one keeps his head buried in the sand. Reality is we all do it. But, as you point out, it’s when we lift up our head and do something about the challenges in front of us that is more noteworthy.

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  • Leanne R

    I think that if you balance business strategies with humane leadership that evokes the passion from employees, you have the recipe for success. But if the employees “passion” doesn’t align with the business strategies by not doing what they paid to do, it can have disastrous results, no matter how great the working environment.

  • Margaret Waage

    I like feeling valued just as much as the next guy/gal. I believe good leadership starts with treating people the way you (manager) want to be treated. Engagement of any kind is not one-sided equation. Employees get paid to do a job, as do managers. Both are not immune to non-verbal communication of exclusion and clique mentality that can steadily erode what might otherwise be a good working environment.

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