Page 2: Does this mean management is changing?
The 1990s certainly have seen a marked shift in management attitudes and practices from those of the 1980s. This comes from the understanding that it is the customer’s needs and aspirations around which the company must focus and the realisation that the attitudes and commitment of all the employees must be engaged to most effectively meet those needs. To flourish in the modern working environment, people will need to be flexible and adaptable. They will need to be imaginative, have developed wide-ranging thinking skills and above all, be able to work closely with others. Thus the organisation manages rather than is managed. There are, typically, less layers of management in today’s organisation but each one is entrusted with greater responsibilities for the running of the business.
The company will, probably, be team oriented; the old rigid boundaries between people are being replaced with internal networks which are totally focused on the company’s goals and improved competitiveness. A team is a small group who have developed to the stage where they are able to perform effectively, each member adopting a role necessary to work with others, using complementary skills.
The teams, whilst focusing on their own goals, will look to the company as being the main team. Employees will be taking more responsibility and will thus look to senior executives to provide strong leadership. Management are also more relaxed about communicating company performance information throughout the organisation. Indeed, many have found that when employees know exactly how the company is performing, whether well or badly, they become stimulated to greater efforts.
It sounds challenging. Is it?
Today’s business scene is extremely demanding. Companies are faced with ever faster rates of change in customer and market demands which must be met if the business is to enjoy sustained success. Employees, too, want success - not just for themselves, in terms of greater job satisfaction, higher disposable incomes and better lifestyles, but also for the organisation that employs them.
They know that the company will change as it adapts to the partnership way of working. They want the partnership to work. Partnership can and does. Companies that have adopted this way of working are among the more successful worldwide. They all state that they depend for their success on their people bringing a continual flow of new ideas on how the business can operate for the better. In these organisations employees are viewed as assets and not costs. There is an increasing recognition that employees can be the most important resource in the organisation, particularly in creating a competitive edge.
Whether a company employs ten or a thousand employees, it requires the potential of all those people to be unlocked if the organisation is to succeed. As the Managing Director of British Chrome and Chemicals said, ‘There is no other source of competitive advantage! Others can copy our investment, technology and scale – but NOT the quality of our people.’