“Command and control” is so last century
Data is more accessible and easier to analyse than ever. The complexity of the technology has led to a centralisation of planning expertise and the availability of data has encouraged senior managers to believe that they can control their business from on high.
There is an irony here: The ever-increasing IT solutions in the back office and the ease with which operations can capture and analyse data appears to have encouraged a resurgence in old fashioned “command and control” management.
This is the idea that managers do the thinking and workers do the working. In this concept, the last thing you want is for people at the front line to show any initiative or independence – because that might mess up the plan.
Instinctively most managers know this won’t work but often the technology on offer drives this behaviour.
They are presented with “should take times” or “average handle time” for measuring work (similar to work study programmes popular in the 1970’s) and they focus on schedule adherence, performance indicators and targets. Then, in a desperate attempt to reconnect with the front line, managers introduce employee engagement programmes or offer “empowerment” in the form of being able to swap shifts online… but these are generally bolt-on extras, and not built in ways of working.
Millennials need “Coach and Co-ordinate” management
In short managing millennials will involve replacing directive command and control management with a much more engaging approach of coach and co-ordinate.
Millennials desire and value learning and progression and will move on quickly if their expectations aren’t met. They want a flexible approach to work; millennials are used to cramming their lives with multiple activities. They may play on sports teams, work for multiple causes, spend time as fans at company sports events and spend lots of time with family and friends.
Millennials will desire leadership that is structured and clear, focused on personal development and continuous improvement. It needs to encourage collaboration and problem-solving capabilities in the pursuit of success. They want to be heard, believe they have great ideas and the attitude to get things done.
So, no directive management approaches here please. Millennials won’t stand for an environment where managers simply issue instructions with little room for discussion and where non-delivery is considered failure without the necessary engagement to understand.
So how do we bring WFM into this century?
• Engage and empower. Distribute – rather than centralise operations planning and control. Move control as close to the customer as possible: put it in the hands of team leaders and front line workers.
• Communicate and collaborate. Rather than using the technology to control people, use it to engage people. Let people get instant feedback on how they are doing – and what difference they have made to the customer, the operation, and their colleagues.
• Respect and enable. Treat workers as adults, expect them to take responsibility for their own performance and for meeting goals that deliver for the organisation and for the individual. Focus on skill development and professional recognition.
• Support team working and work-life balance. Create planning and decision making processes that focus on people working together, supporting and covering each other – respecting people’s time and recognising that people have goals outside of the workplace too.
• Coach and mentor. Put management at the bottom of the hierarchy. Each layer of management exists to coach and support the people closer to the customer. Team leaders, in particular, are workplace performance coaches.
Get this right and your employees will put you at the top of the employer rating websites. Get it wrong and they will sweep out of your organisation in a fit of righteous indignation – tweeting about it as they go.
Links: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows- people/future-of-work/assets/reshaping-the-workplace. pdf )
Emma is responsible for customer outcomes and business performance across ActiveOps Europe.
She has 15 years of operations management and back office workforce optimization experience within the financial services industry where she was responsible for large operations and improvement projects.
As a certified coach Emma worked with a range of organisations focusing on leadership development and performance improvement before joining ActiveOps in 2010.