"If human beings could invent the modern industrial organization, then they can reinvest it" - Gary Hamel
I have spent most of my career in the banking world.
Professional, rigid, rule abiding, and corporate. I tried to work at smaller
banks to avoid the corporate ways and games. Some things have changed over my
20 year banking career – just not enough. Today I work in an open office
atmosphere, email rules the day, and there is a bigger focus on team. It just
isn’t quite enough.
Under New Management How Leading Organizations
are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus represents my corporate
dream. David examines new methods to manage and lead people. He pushes aside
the traditional management tools and throws out some innovative ideas that are
fresh, new, and probably pretty controversial to conventional managers. The
thing is, some companies are very successful using some of the new ideas that
Burkus shares. What will it take for more to jump on the bandwagon?
David challenges us reexamine our current ways. As a
manager, I ate this book up page by page. I love new styles that focus on
people and this book delivers. Life is fast paced today and some managers
refuse to be innovative and challenge the status quo. Is that you? Under new Management focuses on 13
chapters each outlining a new idea, concept or way of thinking. Some of them
will make you uncomfortable and saying “No Way!” Others may have you ready to
jump out of your chair chanting “Yes! Yes!” The old ways of managing just don’t
work anymore and it’s time make change and impact the world.
Let’s dive into some new ideas from David Burkus. Here
are 13 of them for you to discover in Under
Email. The book starts with a shocker. Outlaw email? Email can be very
distracting and pulls us away like a delicate piece of chocolate. We hear and
see them roll in all day. They interrupt us, stress us out, make us feel like are
missing something if we don’t respond immediately. I worked in an office where
I swear there was a contest going on as to who answered emails first. I always
lost. Emails “pollute” the work environment, keep people from communicating,
and freak us out. Some companies are eliminating emails or at least limiting
the hours it can be used. Sound radical? It is, but it may just work.
Customers Second. Wow. I loved this chapter. By putting people first you
will have happier customers and improved performance. Invest in what is
important (people) and the chips will fall into place. Make managers
accountable to your first line people and watch satisfaction and productivity
Standard Vacation Policy. I love this idea because it empowers people and
makes them responsible. Companies like Netflix have seen increased freedom and
trust which translates into higher productivity. I love this idea for me
however, I’m not so sure that all employees are ready for this novel idea.
People to Quit. Zappos pays people to quit. Yup, quit. If you hire in and
want to leave after 3 weeks you receive $4000 to do so. No strings. In the end
this offer keeps great employees who want to be a part of the culture and they
are more engaged with a higher self worth. Better to cut sunk costs early
rather than later.
Salaries Transparent. Some companies have instituted policies where
everyone knows what their coworkers make. They claim that it is more efficient and
actually increases productivity. The secrecy is gone and after awhile people stop
being interested in what others make.
NonCompetes. So many of us have been hand tied by non compete agreements. They
ultimately hamper true competition and fail to motivate people. Clients and
employees will follow those that they trust and admire; a non compete won’t stop
Performance Appraisals. This is one of my favorites. As a manager I have
always hated the traditional review process and hate getting them today. They
are aged and out of touch, I was cheering for this idea. Let’s have more check
ins, more ongoing coaching and development, and bring morale up. Stop rating people
on curves and dehumanizing your team.
Hire as a
Team. I love this idea and have always tried to make hiring decisions based
on a team decision process. The team owns their projects and productivity. They
need to choose the talent and enhance collaboration.
Org Chart in Pencil. This is a novel approach. Rather than building teams
in traditional roles, build a team around projects and change things up when a
project wraps up. It’s flexible, fluid, and talent is shared. Why not?
Offices Shut Employees Down. Here! Here! This is another idea that I cheer
on. I love hustle and bustle as well as my teammates but open offices are
distracting. I don’t want to hear about everyone’s woes or their rough party
last night. Studies show that open offices worsen relationships, are too loud
and distracting, lower job performance, and plain annoy people. There is a
better way and leaders need to own up to change.
Sabbaticals. This is a refreshing idea. Initially my reaction was negative.
It could never work. Then I really thought about what David wrote and changed
my mind. Granted sabbaticals won’t work with every industry however, rejuvenation,
new ideas, cross training, and less stress won me over.
Managers. Since I am a manager, this wasn’t my favorite idea. However, it
grew on me the more that David explained the idea and shared examples where it
is effective. This idea is probably best employed in a smaller company and
offers more autonomy, better work control, more loyalty, and shared leadership.
departures. I have always rejoiced for people who left my teams for better
opportunities. Good companies do the same and form networks to reunite people
and keep alumni ties. I worked for a smaller bank and we have an alumni group
with occasional reunions. Although most of us are gone due to a merger, we
remain close and will always have a special bond.
Reading Under New
Management was a delight and I almost read it without putting it down once. This
book fed my management dreams and really convinced me to take a second look at
some new ideas that I originally scoffed at. The old ways are hindering our competitiveness
and stifling people and innovation. We all have a responsibility to challenge
ourselves and our people to do better, be better, and grow better. Happy