Here’s a (not-so) fun fact about conventional management that you might not be aware of. In 1911 — yes, many years ago — Frederick Winslow Taylor wrote a book called The Principles of Scientific Management. This tome became the prevailing management approach for many organizations. You would think that newer, more modernized approaches to management would have developed since then, but many core management principles still come from that 1911 volume.
Many of our so-called “scientific” approaches to management/leadership are essentially one-size-fits-all. Here’s a target. If you hit the target, you did well. If you missed it, you did poorly.
That doesn’t work anymore, and honestly hasn’t worked for years.
Watch out for the efficiency paradox
When we over-focus our leadership approaches on productivity measures, we create a ‘Spreadsheet Mentality.’ It must be tracked! It has to be measured! If it cannot be so — easily — then we shall ignore it! And that creates the efficiency paradox. When you manage only what you can measure, you end up ignoring key factors to success.
This creates a world where, per current research, less than half of global employees know if they’re doing a good job. This flows from similar research that only about 1 in 2 employees is clear on what’s even expected of them at work.
It all points to ineffective and inconsistent feedback and coaching: We need to rethink and, honestly, reinvent how we’re leading others.
Too often, we strip human psychology away from how we discuss work. That’s a mistake. According to 2015 research from SHRM, the No. 1 thing employees want from their work is respect from above. International job priorities compiled by Hubspot have shown most employees want greater opportunities for growth — across dozens of cultures.
You drive results by empowering and developing people
How do you move employees towards a greater sense of respect from above, more opportunities for growth, and feedback?
You coach them. You help them develop their leadership skills using a coach approach.
You have real, organic conversations with them about what’s happening vs. what should be happening. You ask questions. You listen. You course-correct. You model and explain. You observe. Yes, you focus on soft skills — that’s what coaching often does.
You can have the greatest product in the world, but if something about the product fails, what happens if your only focus was the product? Now you lack the people to pivot to something else. If you had coached up those people, though, the product failing would be a blip instead of a catastrophe.
Taking a coach approach gets results
Of course, I am biased. I’m an executive coach. I work with executive leaders and coach them all the time. I’ve created coach approach leadership development programs that have helped 100’s of new and established leaders work more efficiently and have more impact. I know coaching gets results.
But I don’t want you to take my word for all this solely … according to Bersin & Associates coaching-style leadership has been shown to improve business results by 21%. And my clients tell me that my programs really get results for their people. Here’s a testimonial from someone who’s facilitating one of my leadership development programs internally in their organization.
“I wanted to say that I have enjoyed facilitating the LEAD program. I love the simplicity, yet it seems to strike the right chord with the participants and they dive into the deep end. It is easy to connect to the models – and the tweaking makes a great framework for development during and after completing the course.”
“Feedback was excellent. Participants loved being part of it. Flipping through the feedback forms now: Everyone said they would recommend the course to their colleagues! So now I’m preparing to kick off a new group.” May-Brit Johnsen, Human Resources, Teekay Offshore