Freedom at work II.

To use some kind of freedom at work it is needed to have open and trustworty company environment. The question is how top and middle management can trust or want to trust management layers and field staff below. Or how they deal with the opinions and impulses for improvement, questions about strategy and or requests for personal development. Are we ready to provide these environments or we do not trust people even we use strong words like agile, coaching, lean and or kaizen? Are these words used just because they are trendy or management know the exact meaning of methodologies (and the real approach)?

I would like to share a story with you, but not so much in detail because some of people's behavior can be recognized by themselves with not positive result.

Sometimes companies declare their openness and usage of coaching, kaizen approach and would like employees to come to the management and share their opinions or ask for personal development e.g. via coaching. But if you talk to top management representatives and use words like coaching (not in the meaning of training) they can have a different point of view. Imagine company where savings is a must. They need motivated employees to provide more work (or save money with improvements). So, and you know that there is no space for directive management style because employees are demotivated and just "hold the log". Well, when you talk to the highest manager about coaching, not about autocratic management style, this top manager can say "Well, if you'd like to coach, you can do it with your football team" (and the company supports coaching). Is this company enviroment ready?

This company is not ready, but they declare they are. I would like to focus on the reason. Directive style was used by the top management to force employees to join company wide program which was oriented to savings. Employees didn't know what is this program about, they didn't know what they are going to do, who will be their manager and project leader nominated for this activity was not specialist in the area but act as it was. After questions they can hear answers like "you have to join this program and if not I have to lay off some employees from your team" or "think about it, beacuse you was selected and there is no discussion about that - and carefuly decide, your decision, whatever it will be, will have some consequences".

It is described very quickly with no more details, but I hope it is enough. And then what was the reason of this behavior? Probably it was a pure affraid about this program. Top management was scared, because probably they didn't (and maybe still don't know) what is this about (or how powerful tools they can use, but they just follow the goal - which cannot be delivered), and they must deliver something - savings. They probably know they have unmonitvated employees and if there is nobody who can join "company wide" and important program it means they failed as a management. How many companies act as this one? And how long they can survive? It a question and it is hard to estimate what can keep them afoat. One of the possibility is money, it is one of the big motivation factors for people. Because as I mentioned in the last article, they have their mortgages, kids etc. But is that motivation for all or there is a milestone which will brake that?

As I remember from my studies about human resources management, employees are the most valuable asset. Because machines, computers and other hard asset is just nothing without human being. Employees who act as a machine and are demotivated, loosing their willingness to changes, to do things in the new/another way, to tell management what is wrong. Because they would like to have their work the same and stable. No changes. So, if I summarize that, it is just question of time when management recognizes it is time to change, to use more freedom and let employees tell them what is wrong (and don't affraid about consequences). But probably it will be too late for change.


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