By Craig Nathanson, The Vocational Coach, an internationally known author, workshop leader, speaker, college lecturer and coach for mid-life adults; editited by David Eveans, Score NE Mass.

Take a look around and you will see a lackluster economy in many countries around the world. While some of this does have to do with financial crisis, much more has to do with poor management.

People come to work with high expectations.  In many workplaces adults are treated like children with an overemphasis on punishment, reward, and silly contests.  Add to this an old outdated style of management and, as a result, people are fearful to be creative, take risks, have courage at work and productivity suffers.

In the early 20th century scientific management was focused on efficiency and effectiveness. Early managers managed through one-way mirror monitoring, controlling employees and their actions.  Some workplaces today still operate this way.  That method was followed by behaviorism with the initial idea that if people can be involved in the process of giving feedback about how they do their work, their productivity would increase.  Sadly, over time, this model was extended too far and incorporated the carrot and stick approach which most modern workplaces resemble.  As a result today's modern worker doesn't like his or her work very much. It has become a survival necessity, working only for money.  When people are working for survival, they are not very productive in the long term.  Modern workplaces today assume workers are lazy and that they need competition, rankings and ratings and the threat of punishment.

Today's workplace is going to change
Most workers don't like their work and would leave in a moment if they had a better offer or opportunity.  This is especially true for today’s younger worker under 30 who unlike their parents expect work to provide balance, joy, and positive relationships.  Unfortunately most HR policies and programs are filled with performance management models and too many rules and constraints which don't add value nor provide what's needed for today's modern worker.  More likely the new generation and those who are still in school between the ages 15 and 25 in about ten years will finally bring change.  These future managers will discard rewards and recognition, and other carrot and stick performance management models.  They will be replaced with evolving work groups, instant feedback and fast moving social networks.  These future managers will look back on the annual review and wonder what was the purpose?  Instead they will use a system of two-way, instant communication based on openness, trust and respect.  Goals and objectives will be set and monitored like today but in a more collaborative way without the effect of catching people doing things wrong at work.

How can we make positive changes now?
Managers today need to re-examine their behavior and assumptions about what drives people at work.  They have to ask, "Are we enabling joy at work or just fear which is limiting growth and creativity?"  They have to ask, "Are we leading healthy systems or systems which are punitive and stagnant?"  It's time to try new approaches which will take courage by today's leaders.

The New Humanistic Management is here now
A new wave is needed now, which I am calling Humanistic Management.  It is systems based and is built around a new working model of trust and collaboration between management and employees.  Written performance reviews are replaced with daily face to face communications where possible.  Dialog between workers and management is feedback-based not evaluative in nature.  Carrot and stick is replaced by compensation models which reward team effort. Restrictive policies and rules are replaced by workplaces which accommodate the ways in which people like to work best.  Job descriptions and other non-value added HR policy elements are replaced by processes and evolving opportunities for people to contribute in multiple areas based on their abilities and interests at the time.  Human Resource models also change to place the focus on enabling joy at work as only then will a person feel vested and ready to make a full contribution.  This new wave of Humanistic Management will focus on people over profit with a clear understanding that this is the route to business success.  Management will guide through coaching and collaboration as business partners not out of positions of authority or power.  This is good for people, for business and, most importantly, for society.

Greed sub-optimizes the system
Unfortunately, unless behavior is changed, patterns continue.  If we look at the Enron crisis, the Dot Com crash, the mortgage melt-down and the on-going behavior on Wall Street, behavior has not changed and we are headed for yet another crisis in around two years. When organizations manage by creating winners and losers with their employees, everyone loses.

How to role model the new Best Manager?

  1. Change your assumptions around people
    Do take a new position that people do their best at work when their deep interests and abilities, when properly motivated, are aligned.  People want to feel vested at work; if so they contribute and make a difference.  They want feedback not evaluation. Treat people as partners--as adults--through collaboration.
  2. Eliminate the non-value-added performance review, silly contests, slogans, restrictive work hours and all punitive measures.
    Do enable more flexibility, more balance, and more creative ways to work.  Likely the organization will see better results.

Get on board
It might be easy to read this article and dismiss the premise taken as another new age wish list for work.  This would be a mistake.  The younger generation is growing up fast and will implement these new measures in either case over the next 10 years.  They will be put into action because the current system isn't working for business or for people.  The new wave, or Humanistic Management, is coming and you would be wise now to get on board!