Whether operating in a challenging economy, burdensome regulatory oversight or market disadvantages, leadership and management are always charged with making a sound profit with fewer resources and no guarantees. Leaders can no longer rely on 19th Century tools to create future results. Change is the only constant in business today, and all business leaders must adapt and be “agents of sustainable transformation.”
Decision makers and influence leaders saw great changes in the 19th and 20th Centuries as manufacturing and business operations moved through the industrial age, the technology age and the information age. Have those sweeping changes influenced the way you think, manage and lead? Have you changed anything in your business operating model to accommodate the enormity of these “age” shifts?
One of the continuously overlooked areas that also changed during this metamorphosis is the employee. They and their needs also dramatically changed. Currently there are three distinct categories of individuals in the workforce; the baby boomers, Generation X and Y. Each has their own diverse belief system, way of communicating and work ethic which leads to poor workplace interaction reduced productivity and increased stress. Yet they are all managed the same way and still thought of as an expense not an asset.
As leadership progressed through the 19th and 20th Century era categories, operations and management techniques did advance into the Bronze Age. While this era in the earlier years spurned innovators and inventors the likes of Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Henry Flagler and John D. Rockefeller nothing changed in the organizational chart and the thinking about how to operate in a new era.
The Bronze Age
The management and operational structure of the Bronze Age changed very little for the decision makers and influence leaders from that of the Iron Age. The same leadership tools and techniques were still employed as before. As the years passed the old boxed in strategies did not keep pace with the change demands of each era which left leadership having to deal with a “we versus them” attitude that permeated the workforce.
The Bronze Age would be best described as industrious without involvement. Employees did what they were told and completed tasks but without any feeling of involvement or connection to their leadership and the vision of the business or
organization. There was a growing apathy that permeated the workplace because employees felt like they were unimportant and a dispensable expense.
Perhaps it could best be described as productive apathy where capabilities could be high but there was little desire, motivation or inspiration to improve; and no freedom to express things outwardly or participate in the decision making. Stress grew and apathy turned into hostility. This attitude is destructive to both the employer and the employee.
As the chasm grew between leadership/management and the employee so did the distance between the top rung of the organizational chart and the bottom causing more chaos and detachment. The more boxes there were the further detached and disenfranchised the employee became.
Then along came technological advances such as robots in manufacturing plants bringing with it innovation and depersonalization. Closely following on its heels were cubicles and computers invading all areas of the workplace. They created faceless and featureless employees in the workforce further contributing to the deterioration of communications and connections.
Businesses, organizations and their leadership were realizing that things weren’t quite the same but didn’t understand that the boxes they operated in and from no longer worked quite as well by the end of the 20th Century. This was further complicated by the multiple generations in the workforce working side by side unable to communicate vertically or laterally with the chain of command or their co-workers. They were operating without a shared vision and the same goal line.
It was, and in millions of businesses today still is about fiefdoms, who is in charge and pleasing the boss, not what’s in the best interest of the organization and the employees.
Are you part of the millions of businesses operating in the Bronze Age and still using 16th Century leadership tools and techniques? Maybe you’ve transformed your thinking, have elevated your leadership and your organization’s operations to the Silver Age. And yes, there also is a Golden Age, an optimum operating system for the 21st Century?
One step you can take right now to upgrade your thinking and your organization’s productivity is to eliminate energy drainers and stress creators! Every workplace environment has energy. It is positive supportive and engaging, or negative, stress-filled and unproductive. Remove stacks of things you never use, boxes of materials blocking workspace, file what needs to be kept for future use and shred the rest, reduce the noise in the workplace so employees can focus and paint the walls colors conducive to
maximum production and minimum stress. The result of eliminating energy drainers and stress creators – a calmer more productive workforce
Up next, the Silver Age! Do you know what it is, should you care? Absolutely because organizations in this Age increase innovation productivity and profits while creating a workplace where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved.
© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2011
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She creates environments that engage and focus your workforce. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It and can be reached at www.Energy-by-Design.com or call: 561-408-2708.Share