Increasing teamwork and local control
Another feature of technology-enabled neo-Taylorism has been the resurgence of Command and Control management. Increasing sophistication of scheduling technologies, coupled with the ease of data capture has driven the centralising of planning teams to the point where in many places Team Leaders seem to exist only to relay the instruction of the central team.
Since the work of Karasec in the 1970’s on job demands and control, it has been clear that having some sense of being in control of one’s work offsets the pressures of the demands and reduces the stressful impact of work.
One way of improving the level of control individuals have within their working environment is to shift the balance away from centralised command and control and move towards more autonomous team working. Give team leaders the tools both to support the performance of their team and to co-ordinate shared objectives across teams. This will move control closer to the individuals in teams, giving them more perspective and a greater opportunity to be involved in the process of planning and managing the flow of work.
In this context, not all workforce management technologies are the same. Look for one that supports a “coach and co- ordinate” style of decentralised control rather than one that favours centralised command and control.
So perhaps I should say that in addition to taking on more psychotherapies, organisations should also take some medicine themselves, and reduce the causes of stress, not just manage the symptoms.
Neil Bentley has been helping organizations to improve their front-line operating performance for over 20 years. Originally qualified in Psychology, he went on to work at Lucas Industries in the 1980s, gaining experience in manufacturing production management, before focusing on financial services and the public sector, first with PA Consulting Group and then as a partner with specialist consultants OCP.
He launched ActiveOps with fellow OCP partner Richard Jeffery in 2005. Neil brings with him an unparalleled understanding of the mix of the human and the technical aspects of performance improvement.