Step 1: Flatten Your HierarchyTo start this 5 part series off right, let's get something clear; this series is based on my own experience of building several start-ups (8 to be exact), from the ground up. One of which I took public on NASDAQ.
Through the years I've learned one thing; the power of any organization is locked deep inside your people. Manage them badly and they leave. Manage them correctly, and they release an unprecedented tsunami of productivity.
Honestly I didn't have much of a choice. I was forced to learn how to manage people because I didn't have unlimited funds to shower them with, expecting them to live up to my standard of expectations. Boomer expectations.
So I learned to be better. I learned about what drives behavior, motivation and loyalty. And in this 5 part series, I am passing the baton of over 30 years of my experiences to you. So let's dig in...
Your younger workers aren't the problem. The way Millennials act and behave are a symptom of a much bigger issue; your workforce has been raised differently—trained in business since they were children. I explain it all in my award-winning business book Liquid Leadership.
Those of you still complaining about Millennials may not realize they are acting the way they do in your organization BECAUSE they have been trained already in business. I know, hard to believe,...but if you watch my TEDXTalk, you'll see, video games, new parenting methods and a student-centered curriculum have created someone waiting for you to give the right command.
Simply put, you are not speaking the programming language for a new generation of worker. A generation Baby Boomers raised.
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Behavior has changed, but in addition, technology has given us the ability to get work done without physical effort anymore. You can work from anywhere as long as there is a WiFi connection, and in some cases, work better.
With all these changes, management models haven't really changed much since the turn of the 20th Century.
So here are two reasons you need to flatten hierarchy: a 21st Century Organization needs to move faster, and age is no longer the criteria for advancement. Skill is.
Let me explain.
Former CEO of Cisco, John Chambers flattened the hierarchy back in the early 2000s. You may remember Cisco Systems being the darling of Wall Street back in the Go Go 90s of the Dot Com Era. Suddenly the stock went from $68 per share plunging to $11 in less than 6 months.
The Dot Com implosion destroyed solid companies along with weak companies. The bubble had burst on the dot com era and the baby was getting thrown out with the bathwater so to speak.
Chambers went into action firing thousands of employees and eliminating hundreds of dud products that were no longer profitable. In other words, to save Cisco, he made her lean and mean by trimming the fat.
Chambers also figured out something else, he was the bottleneck that made the company too slow for the up and coming 21st Century. If all decision making in a company HAS to go through the owner, then guess what? That's a company that will not survive very long.
He even said it himself...
John decided to get out of the way and created two autonomous groups within Cisco that made purchasing decisions without him. He created a more democratic organization.
What does all this mean? Why must we flatten today's organizations? By getting rid of the distance between decision-making and implementation, an organization starts eliminating bottlenecks, and moves faster. Frictionless productivity starts becoming a reality and communication happens in real-time.
And since speed is paramount in the 21st Century. This means your people managers need to be trained differently.
Netflix (The online streaming media company a.k.a. TV on the go), seems to have the best grasp of this—training their team managers in team morale and communication has become paramount to their success.
Harvard Business Review. Check It Out: Netflix--A Great Place to Work
One of their tactics is to make sure managers are in charge of creating great teams. By visualizing the outcomes they want, and aligning with the skill sets they NEED to accomplish that goal, Netflix team managers waste no time hiring the right people.
Imagine picking only the people you need? That would make you really efficient, right?
I'll talk more about Netflix in Step 5. Until then, see you in Step 2: Creating a 'Truth Telling' Environment.
See you next time...
Global Management & Leadership Development Consultant
Author • Workshop Facilitator • Executive Coach • Keynote Speaker
Brad Szollose (pronounced zolis), is a globally recognized Management Consultant and the foremost authority on Millennials and Cross-Generational Leadership Development
TEDX Speaker, Web pioneer and the author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Inc., Advertising Age, The International Business Times, and The Hindu BusinessLine to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets.