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Anti-Managing: How to Loosen the Reigns without Losing Control

Published By Team AdaptiveWork

We’ve already taken a good look at the future of management, or should we say “anti-management”? This involves throwing off the shackles and constraints of traditional management structures and hierarchies, which can constrict innovation and places decision-making in the hands of people who might not actually know the most about what they’re deciding on.

Many major global corporations, such as Toyota and Johnson & Johnson, have embraced the anti-management philosophy of decentralizing decision-making and empowering the people who are best positioned to take decisions through supportive leadership.

Transforming an organization to function with such a flexible and decentralized structure isn’t easy, however, and requires significant leadership skills to make the transition a success. Here are some good ways to start.

How to Put Anti-Management into Practice

  1. Give people a purpose.

Under more traditional management hierarchies, team members can feel that they are most definitely at the bottom of the pyramid, expected to do exactly as instructed and work under the watchful eye of a supervisor – in other words, just necessary cogs in a greater machine. Understandably the only goal, then, is for them to get up the ladder and away from the bottom rung, rather than taking any risks or making any improvements at whichever level they find themselves at.

Anti-management challenges this by focusing on purpose, whether it be at an organizational, team or individual level. All employees have a value and contribution beyond merely completing tasks, and one of the most essential of these is the reception and transfer of information, either from the outside-in (i.e. from customers to the organization) or through sharing knowledge and experience of internal processes. Through supportive leadership, organizations can improve staff well-being and self-confidence as well as generating greater value per employee by acknowledging and supporting the idea of universal purpose.

  1. Focus on alignment rather than results.

Financial reporting and the constant updates and focus on figures can very easily become a maelstrom of numbers where nothing else matters. As many organizations have figured out, if you maintain alignment with the company’s objectives, the numbers will follow. While budgetary concerns are necessary elements for creating strategy, they can descend into a box-ticking exercise that is just used for covering people’s backs, all while stifling actual innovation.

A company’s objectives must always be paramount in their concerns, and anti-management fosters an environment where leadership focuses on achieving goals and objectives rather than just becoming a business-by-numbers exercise.

  1. Workshop what self-direction means and how management facilitates it.

Naturally, shifting to a radically different management structure will test not only the leadership skills of those in charge, but also the ability of team members to take more control of their activities. During the change implementation process, it is therefore important to get team members together and outline what greater self-direction actually means. For example, it will probably mean less reporting, but also taking more initiative. Conversations change from “Should I call AB Supplies to follow up on their campaign data” to “I called AB Supplies about their campaign data, I think we should take X course of action, what are your thoughts?”

This new approach can be intimidating but ultimately rewarding for all parties if followed effectively. Bringing the team together and running through concerns and guidelines also gives management the opportunity to embrace its new role, that of being facilitators rather than directors/supervisors. Their goal is to help staff achieve their best performance, rather than telling staff what needs to be achieved.

Increase your business agility with Planview AdaptiveWork’s project management software

Implementing anti-management means adopting a more flexible management framework, with each of its component parts empowered to make decisions and transmit information. This requires communication and management software that can cope with dynamic project adjustments and facilitate communication and collaboration along non-traditional lines.

To keep up with the rapid changes in how management happens, Planview AdaptiveWork has embraced its philosophies. Our teams know exactly how management tools need to work so that anti-management can function. To find out how we’re contributing to the anti-management revolution, talk to our team here to set up a live demonstration.

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Written by Team AdaptiveWork