Why People Shouldn’t Be Managed

i robotI recently heard the term “People Manager” used and it made me think: What exactly does a “People Manager” do? I had to wonder, can one intellectual being effectively manage another? You see, my quarrel with this term is that I’m certain we are all comprised of our own thoughts and our own unique characteristics; neither of which, to my understanding can be managed by another human being. It’s almost like trying to manage the way each individual breathes – demanding all to breathe in sync with others. It’s impossible!

If you’ve ever had an issue with a process at work you’ve probably been told to “take it up with management”. That’s likely because the position of a manager is one in charge of managing processes, not people. When one is positioned to manage, it is with the idea they are to manage the issues at hand, to bring about change to processes that interfere with productivity not the people who execute those processes.

Earlier this year the Washington Post published an article on Zappos’ move to get rid of the traditional management idea and focus on what they describe as a holacracy approach, a concept birthed by management consultant Brian Robertson. In the article the author, Jena McGregor describes the approach as one with

……no managers in the classically defined sense. Instead, there are people known as “lead links” who have the ability to assign employees to roles or remove them from them, but who are not in a position to actually tell people what to do.

The idea takes into consideration that people don’t want to be “managed”. They want to be valued and accepted as part of a team.

Taking the holacracy concept into consideration, getting rid of traditional management will enable businesses to get the most out of workers by forming an inclusive environment. The top-down enforcement of rules and procedures don’t get people to produce great work, it cripples creativity and interferes with innovation.

If you want your team or your organization to succeed, put people into positions of leadership having the understanding they are to prove their ability to influence workers to execute the company vision and mission.

So I ask you, would it be inconceivable if we were to re-think the term “People Management” and instead, focus on managing processes and promoting more leaders?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse Leadership and Management Channel.

You can find it here.


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