Updated: Jun 8, 2020
The CEO of a Therapeutics Company and a Co-founder of an IT services company are both challenged in managing cultural changes within the company and sought our help. The Therapeutics company wants to bring in a start-up like culture while leveraging the experience of a large organization. They were worried that their lack of agility will eventually show up in a demoralised sales team and top line growth will be impacted. The IT company was expanding into new geographies and worried that their current systems for people and performance management might need an overhaul to scale the company up. All valid points, but how is transformation possible then. Is there a silver bullet or do they just bite the bullet. All companies, by virtue of their tenure have built a legacy of work practices (Process) that they are unable to shake off when they need to transform. Over a period of time, Management starts managing the "process" and compliance to the process rather than the outcomes intended from the process.
Here are some proven steps to break the old ways of working
As companies grow, they promote their managers to middle management responsibilities and as a result club few business areas into a middle management position. These Mid-Mgmt roles and their supervisors get further away from understanding their clients and usually focus their energies on compliance to organizational process and rules rather than adding value to clients. Growth oriented companies always have a short "customer distance" principle by which the number of layers between the customer and the ultimate decision maker for that business is quick enough to keep the customer delighted. Some companies have successfully implemented a "zero customer distance" policy.
Unlearn to Learn
As growth adds layers of management, companies get into an "inertia" that prevents them from being agile. What you often hear from the management is "learn" new ways of working, reskill the work force, transform technology, change the culture, etc. Learning is so much more fun, when you unlearn what you have been doing. It requires an open mind and an ability to listen without judgement
In-Charge vs In-Control
A recent survey we did with a team inching towards 100 members revealed a stark correlation between rigid processes fuelled by micro-management and low employee productivity. This also bottled up creative ideas to self-improvement. As companies take steps to reduce "Customer Distance" and encourage "Unlearning", Managers will face a huge existential crisis. The new paradigm for Managers is to treat Adults as Adults, build Trust and transition to a management style where they are "In-Control" vs being "In-Charge".
There are several instances of companies - big and small - breaking away from the old ways of working by leveraging the "power of their people" rather than "strength of processes". They are live examples of how to make work awesome.
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