January 14, 2012
I never thought about the investment in managers as having a “genetic” equivalent – until I got some great perspectives from William F. Milnor, the Director of Business Processes for the Mental Health Center of Denver. In the OPEN MINDS Circle, we’ve had a running discussion prompted by the Harvard Business Review article, First, Let’s Fire All the Managers, about whether managers are worth the cost (See Should You “Eliminate” Your Managers all members). The question that emerged is this – what “value add” do managers bring in our “new normal”?
For Mr. Milnor, the answer is that positive organizational culture is an asset – and that asset is created and perpetuated by managers. Managers carry “the good DNA of the organization.” He wrote, “I appreciate flatter hierarchies and talented visionary leaders that hire well and develop and promote autonomy. I believe that freedom has structure and architecture. It has to be founded in certain principles that are adopted and accepted. Within business this is what gets constituted in the organizational culture.”
“My experience informs me that when business intentionally creates a rich and rewarding culture it includes many freedoms stemmed from high trust and participation. The point here is that the culture is intentional and created initially by the ‘owners’ or management who desire it to be so. In any large organization there is a range of experience and skill that, at best, should be continuously improving. A strong healthy culture will facilitate developmental growth requiring less oversight or external motivation. Yes, management has a cost and like all other costs it should be ‘managed.’ Back to your point on competencies for the future, I think we will need both managers grown from within carrying the good DNA of the organization and some from without to help stimulate the evolutionary process moving forward, with all having eyes and ears to the organization and fingers on the pulse of the market.”
Mr. Milnor’s comments made me think of a discussion I had with an executive from a large retail chain. He said that every time they opened a new store, their policy was that half of the staff in the new store must come from another existing store. His point was that the culture of great service wasn’t something they could duplicate with training. Perhaps it was genetic.
Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS
P.S. For more on this topic, I hope you’ll join my colleague ellise hayden for her presentation, “Strategic Human Resource Management: How Do You Attract & Retain Top Talent” at the 2012 Best Management Practices Institute. For a previous institute presentation on talent management, check out Maximizing Clinical Staff Productivity: Using Performance-Based Compensation as a Productivity Tool all members by OPEN MINDS Senior Associate, Joseph Naughton-Travers, Ed.M.
For another free resource, see: Exchanging Managers For Chaos? all members
This is free for the next sixty days to all registered OPEN MINDS Circle members.