In its August 25th issue on “Trouble at the Office”, Business Week reports on how nearly 4,000 readers identified their biggest concerns about their work and provided their own answers for how to deal with those concerns. I was particularly struck by the ways people found to fight bureaucracy, deal with toxic bosses – and stay creative – not merely to make their own work lives more tolerable, but to help their companies succeed despite these problems.
One of the stories, “Breaking Out Of The Box”, observed that “negotiating a stultifying bureaucracy ranked third among their most pressing workplace problems.” In it, Bill Fox, managing partner of VanguardComm in New Brunswick, NJ observed that “it’s been said that successful corporate survivors are system beaters.”
Isn’t it amazing that those people who can do the most to make a company successful view the major obstacle to achieving success as the company itself, or more accurately, its management system?
Think about what that means! While it’s in vogue to try to find ways to “break out of the box” by how we think, and by how we get our work done, let’s try shifting the focus from the employee to the company and its senior management and ask: When will you break the box that is holding people back from performing?
In the remarkable turnaround of a 3,000-person company that I wrote about recently in NOBLE ENTERPRISE: The Commonsense Guide to Uplifting People and Profits, the people of that company rose to great heights, in large part because the chains of bureaucracy were lifted, freeing people to collaborate in innovative ways to save the company. (For a free article based on this turnaround “Bringing a Company Back to Life- the Role of the CEO”, click here.)
Of course this took an act of courage from the CEO and his management team to manage in a way that was not stifling, but rather in a way that freed people to give their best, all in the service of a higher purpose – of revitalizing the company and serving its customers.
When we talk about empowering people, we need to keep in mind that one of the best ways to empower people is to stop from micro-managing them – even if that means breaking the proverbial “box” – and creating a culture and management system that supports people in finding the best ways to achieve the company’s mission.
So, if you’re a manager, go break some “boxes” today – and see what energy you release toward better organizational performance. And, if you’re a CEO, think about whether it’s time to do an audit on your Management System and create a new one that allows and thus encourages greatness.