Much has been written and said about management and leadership over the last century. The question most often posed is whether there is a difference between managing and leading. The simple answer is yes. But separating the two is not so simple. More importantly, in today’s world, not only is it nearly impossible to separate management from leadership, it isn’t even practical or good.
Once upon a time — at the height of the industrial revolution and before the advent of the technological revolution — it was correct to call a manager just that…. a manager. The foreman of an industrial-era factory gave little thought to what was being produced or about the people producing it. His job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the necessary tasks to the right people, coordinate the results, and ensure the job was done as ordered on time. The focus was efficiency. The typical foreman managed work; not people.
Today, management and leadership go hand-in-hand. They are not the same or synonymous but they are inextricable. If we were to boil it down to a singular statement, the manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate while the leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. But there is more to it than that. In today’s complex workplace, it is vital that every organization have people who can lead and people who can manage… preferably some who can do both. Unfortunately, there tends to be too much management and not enough leadership. What are the primary differences between leading and managing? Why is there a greater need for people who can lead? Continue reading
Companies and their management are constantly weighing the needs of the business with the wishes of employees. It is a balancing act. When done well, a company is able to provide enough flexibility, incentives, inspiration and consideration for the well being of its employees while still ensuring the needs of the business are met. When companies such as Best Buy or Yahoo are struggling, however, management finds itself in the difficult position of having to make sharp adjustments to policies in order to achieve balance again. Those adjustments can often be difficult to swallow for the organization’s employees. In the case of Yahoo, for example, their policy rescinding remote employees primarily impacted about 200 workers employed to work from home full time. The decision was met with a huge outcry internally and a great deal of criticism externally. What Yahoo may have gained in improving innovation and collaboration may ultimately be lost in employee loyalty and morale. That remains to be seen.
While businesses like Yahoo and Best Buy may find it necessary to rescind employee-friendly workplace policies, it is certainly not the national or global trend. Many companies, particularly those that are cutting-edge or are fiercely fighting to lure top talent away from competitors, are looking for more ways to provide employees with a work structure that makes sense for both the business and the individual. This is especially since women now make up such a big part of the workforce. As companies move forward in an age of better technology with employees who value work/life balance, managers will increasingly have to grapple with their own position on workplace policies. What should businesses take into consideration as they try to strike a balance between a company’s needs and the needs of its employees? Continue reading
Across every industry, companies today are competing to hire and retain employees with the strongest skills. While the unemployment rate may still be high, most companies will attest that there is a shortage of top talent. According to Forbes, some of the most sought-after skills today include: critical thinking, complex problem solving, judgment/decision making, active listening, computer, math, operations and systems analysis, monitoring/ assessment, programming, sales and marketing. Anyone with a combination of these skills — the top skills desired for the most in-demand jobs in 2013 — is considered highly valuable. To attract and retain the most talented workers, many employers have offered workplace accommodations that cater to employees’ needs including working remotely, flexible schedules, relaxed work attire, etc. These accommodations are meant to meet needs and thus increase employee loyalty. After all, without employee loyalty, employers have to fill the same positions over and over as the most skilled employees are hired, work for a short time, and then leave.
By the same token, companies find themselves in the unique position of also needing to remain relevant and competitive, which sometimes flies in the face of employee needs. For example, two major companies — Yahoo and Best Buy — recently found themselves trying to balance internal demands against employee needs. At Yahoo, new CEO Marissa Mayer announced that she was abolishing the company’s work-from-home policy in an effort to create a new culture of innovation and collaboration. To do that, she said employees needed to physically report to work. While Mayer said her decision was not meant as a referendum on working remotely, Yahoo did paint a picture of a company where employees were aimless and morale was low. No sooner did Yahoo make its announcement and another ailing company followed suit. Best Buy announced that it also would no longer permit employees to work remotely, reversing one of the most permissive flexible workplace policies in the business world. However, both companies are already viewed as struggling to remain relevant and competitive.
Do such moves help reinvigorate ailing companies or will these steps simply push top talent to leave those companies even faster? How are such actions perceived by employees? And what should businesses take into consideration as they try to strike a balance between a company’s needs and the needs of its employees? Continue reading
Over the last two weeks we looked at the role of motivation and inspiration in success. Most people who are successful have both internal sources of motivation and external sources of inspiration. Combined, they provide a great deal of the impetus that makes things happen. But the truth is that even the most successful, driven people have times when there are neither motivated nor inspired. At those times, the job still has to get done.
When motivation and inspiration both run out, that is when it is time to rely on the good, old-fashioned work ethic. The most successful people know that there is no substitute for hard work. Long after bursts of motivation run dry and sparks of inspiration fizzle out, perspiration – rolling up the sleeves and putting the nose to the grindstone — is what carries the day. Forget the adage about ‘working smarter, not harder.’ At the end of the day, evidence shows that what is often needed most is just simple hard work. Here’s why. Continue reading