Choosing What To Control
– Apply thought to empower
At Semco, you are what you do, not what or whom you control.
– Jason Fried
In a Nutshell
It’s no secret that middle managers in large companies are powerless in many ways. Very often, their role is restricted to providing recommendations to the upper management and they have no say in the final decision-making process. High-impact decisions like who gets promoted, what should be the final performance rating that directly impacts the percentage of increment offered to a person etc. are typically made by managers who are two levels above the ground-level employee.
So, when an employee wants to contest a decision that impacts them or wants to understand the logic behind the final decision, the middle manager has no answers. Instead, the system forces them to shrug their shoulders and disown any responsibility for the outcome. All this leaves employees not just confused about where to seek answers, but also resentful and less engaged. It prevents them from feeling a sense of belonging and pushes them to quit the moment they identify “greener” pastures.
And this is where a bit of lateral thinking might help: When upper management chooses a different set of parameters to control – such as engagement and retention levels – and empowers middle managers to control decisions that have a high impact on employees, it creates a culture of trust, ownership and accountability.