Posted by: peterhact | June 20, 2011

The Management 2.0 Challenge

There is a competition running at the moment. I was going to enter it, when I realised that my skills in essay writing are based on my ability to write essays – that is, I have no experience in writing essays, closest thing I wrote was back in 1988, and that was an assignment.

I am not saying I can’t, but I am certain that I have no ideas of the format, the way to write it, or the ways to make my point in the layout provided.

So, instead, I will write it here, not about my company. this is about me, how I use social media and what I think are the brickwalls to adoption in companies.

The Management 2.0 Challenge is this: Old staff have set ways of doing things, new staff think they are too clever by half.

very simplistic, I know.

The problem is that the Old Staff are set in their ways, and, when confronted by a changing environment, with the advent of technologies like social media, collaboration and solutions that require innovative approaches, They try to fit their square ideas into round innovations. The result is the corners get knocked off their ideas, but there are air gaps in their ideas, and the bits that are filled by the gaps lead to solutions that are re-hashes of older ideas – they don’t experience growth, they experience continuity.

It is the same with the new staff, the younger people in the new markets – the same markets as the old staff, but the approach is remarkably different. The ideas are innovative, but, without the life skill that comes with age, their solutions are grandiose, inflated and never aimed at the client’s needs. (clients can be external or internal)

There needs to be a happy balance, a joining of the experience of the older with the newer. The only way that this can occur is through the establishment of a mentoring program, but this has equally challenging demands.

Here are some things that may crop up:

1. Patience is a virtue – when a concept or technology is explained, taking your time leads to benefits. rushing leads to confusion, and if it is a really important lesson, get the pupil to repeat the concepts to you. If they cannot, repeat the exercise till they do. Being patient prevents having to do this many, many times.

2. Mentoring is a big chunk of time – whilst mentoring a younger staff member, time for the older staff member is being lost. Having to repeat the exercise a few times leads to frustration, as the perceived time left to the mentor slips away steadily.

3. If you don’t want help, don’t expect it later – If the offer is made and is refused, don’t expect the person to be amenable later. Mentoring offers are rare. If you turn down the golden opportunity to learn and benefit from an older and wiser resource, that chance may never, ever come back.

4. Just because the technology is new, doesn’t make it better – Just because a new version of software or hardware comes out, with a glowing report from the vendor rep, doesn’t mean that the mentor is going to start singing its praises. Most older staff will watch new technology, gauge the market’s reception, see the adoption takeup and then make a decision whether to inform their clients. They will also be found making a business case up for the inclusion of the technology into their offering portfolio, before telling clients.

5. Commitment is important – If a mentor commits to teching a younger staff member, they will teach them. If a younger staff member is being mentored and ignores the teachings of their mentor, mentoring will stop. see point 3.

6. Listening is more important than talking – when the mentor is talking, listen. when they explain things, listen. when they role play with you, listen. When you are with a client, listen. talking so as to hear your own voice leads to loss of information, like the client’s name, their needs and what they want from you.

7. writing stuff down saves lives – if you write down notes in a meeting, you remember salient points. If you send an email with a quote on it, insist that the client replies via email. If the client wants an order part shipped, get it in writing. If you don’t write stuff down, or insist on email communication, mistakes can be made, and the mentor doesn’t get blamed for an error, you do.

8. Never put off what can be done now – you have come back from a meeting. you have your notes in front of you and the mentor kindly suggests you put it into the CRM system, or your note system if no CRM is used. If you decide to do it later, you may miss bits. One of the bits you miss might be the all important timeframe to the decision, the budget figure, or a particular brand the client hates, with a passion. You may remember that the brand is important for some reason, and make the mistake to use it in your solution.

9. Faith in you is proven by experience – new staff seem to think that they will do great things and the company will stick you on a pedestal. Older people know that to gain your faith in their abilities, they have to prove that it isn’t misplaced.

10. I am not your parent – reminders happen at the beginning of a business relationship, a mentor may mention that there is a client problem that has been there for a while, that you need to fix. as the mentor’s workload increases, the reminders become fewer, till they dry up completely. The reason for this? The mentor isn’t your parent. They won’t tell you to wear a tie and jacket, they won’t tell you to iron a shirt, they won’t ask if you have washed behind your ears. They will advise you of issues, they will tell you to get a move on when running late for meetings, but if you ignore the advice, see point 3.

so much for mentoring.

Next, to look at social media and the points of interest. Old and young alike, there are certain things a company needs to enforce, even if it is the users themselves who enforce the unwritten policy:

1. Facebook usage is for the marketing team, and only briefly. Facebook is not a great use of time for any person in a company, apart from the marketing team, where they can update a company page, check comments and answer or filter questions.

2. If you want to tell your “friends” what you did on the weekend / night before or on your sick day, tell them after work or during your breaks. Company time belongs to the company. break times or after hours are your times. don’t mix the two up, and ensure that your discussions aren’t on company equipment.

3. Collaboration is best done on email – social media networks are just that. global communities where every person can talk to someone across the world. there are concepts that can be discussed over the social network, but make sure that they are generic, no references to specific technology or solutions that you are working on, you may tip off your competitors.

4. Managers are now using twitter and other social media, not to check up on you, but to embrace new technologies and become more adaptable to a changing landscape where information is key. (If you make mention of the sickie you took last week to go skiing, be sure that they are not following you)

5. divorce your personal comments from work, but keep a common thread. The common thread is this: whatever you write, would you think your mother would be ok when reading it? swearing is out. making disparaging comments is out. bagging mum’s favorite recipe for tripe is out. (even though tripe is the work of the devil, and no matter how it is cooked, you can’t hide where it came from)

Management 2.0 needs to change to support the new technology, new innovation and new ideas from the younger staff entering the company. It also has to have room for the older staff, and allow re-education of technology, practices and approaches if required. A flexible manager needs to be able to change gears between older concepts and new concepts, understand the needs of the old staff and the new, realise that the game has changed, and be able to set limits for both groups within pre-defined procedures and policies.

Only by embracing Policy & Procedures 2.0 can a manager hope to maintain the status quo between the two aged groups and ensure that all staff are treated equally and fairly. Making it easier for either group will lead to animosity, derision and division between the two groups. Managers will find that, with the advent of the social media networks, the job of managing staff just got harder.

But as was quoted in a movie, “It’s not a job, it’s an adventure” – applies equally to any company, and it is an adventure, full of pitfalls and crowning achievements, till the holy grail of management is reached, the dust has settled and the company is one great big team… striving to the common goals.

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