Think beyond your box

You are a manager. Therefore, you have staff.

You need to constantly keep updating how you see the world to reflect the way your staff see it — for that will differ.

In other words, you must think beyond your own box.

I am mindful of a company, a very typical one, that I saw from time to time over several years.

Everyone who’s looked at generational shifts likes to point out that the millennial generation likes to be given the whole job (not just a segment of it), likes to work in the ways they use the Internet, likes to bring their own technology to work (just to name three such findings).

Well, this company didn’t have many millennials on staff. Partly that was because there actually hadn’t been many openings throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s, and partly that was because the few they’d hired had beat a hasty retreat quickly.

Yet, underneath the surface, so-called millennial attitudes were creeping into a workforce mostly composed of the two older generations (Gen X and baby boomer).

More and more people were carrying two cellphones — their company-issued one, and their personal one.

The company had locked down the use of social network sites on its corporate network and on its company-issued phones, but it couldn’t stop cellular data antennae from picking up the signals from the personal phones — and tweets, Facebook statuses and other forms of social participation were occurring all work day long.

More important, that wasn’t just social. It was keeping up on their professions, interacting with people over work issues, getting ideas and data.

Out in the business areas, interactions with suppliers and customers were moving from email (controlled) to wikis, forums and other public Internet assets (uncontrolled).

Consultants would come in and there’d be two computers on a desk: one their own, with a cellular USB data stick attached, and the one on the company’s network, with all its controls.

The things people like this could do was seen, of course, by employees. So, too, was the portable technology in pockets observed. The so-called “millennial obsessions” spread.

Management, however, hasn’t kept up. Managers aren’t putting this burst of freedom to work. They’re not looking for ways to leverage it. They certainly aren’t increasing responsibility and scope to take advantage of the obvious capabilities being shown.

No, it’s still a very controlled workplace, wasting most of what the staff could do for them.

It’s easy to blame the system — or the security manager — or any host of other parties. But as a manager, increasing the leverage delivered from your group is one of the key things you’re there for.

The responsibility to handle freedom is yours. Get out of your own box.

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About passionateobserver

I am a passionate observer of our society, the economy, and politics. Mostly I don't like much of what I see, so I write as a concerned citizen. To the fray, I bring a background in the philosophy of history, a lifetime's reading, a work history in information technology management, consulting and education.
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