Enterprise 2.0 needs reverse management

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Summary : there will be no enterprise 2.0 without managers 2.0 with new practices and a new way to contribute to collective success. But holding managers responsible for the whole change is a mistake. Managers will need employees 2.0. In return for their new autonomy, employees will have new responsibilities in the management relationship and will need to learn how to manage their manager. But do they really want to ? Not sure at all.

When we talk about management and enterprise 2.0 it’s often about the unavoidable but tough evolution of the role of middle-managers and with a top down approach, focusing on the relationship between managers and subordinates. A role that’s moving toward facilitation, being supportive, someone who says “how can I help you” rather than “that’s the objective, the methodology…now help yourself”, someone who leads by leadership rather than by objectives etc… The least we can say is that this change is not obvious at all for the people in question. First because it goes against everything they’ve been taught for decades, what’s they’ve been rewarded for. Then because the “you just need to….” is easy but, when it comes to actually doing it, they feel rather lonely.

Of course, such a such is hardly possible without a strong support and accompaniment program. But managers also need their staff. Organizations tend to holding managers responsible for the whole change while employees also have a large responsibility and, consequently, a work to do themselves.

It’s not realistic to thing that managers will let things go, rethink the concept of power and how they contribute to collective success while empowered and autonomous employees will live their own lives, do what they want and ring their managers in case of need.

Employees will have to carry  a part of the change for two reasons :

– to support managers that will need signs, evidences that they do their job well, that they are useful.

– because the evolution of management relationships, empowerment and autonomy come with new responsibilities. Employees will have stakes in driving work relationships because they’ll assume part of the leadership to drive things.

In short, employees 2.0 will need to learn how to manage their managers and wear part of the once despised suit that used to be their manager’s one. But are they ready for this change ? Do they want it ?

I remind of a survey I heard of 2 or 3 years ago on french workplaces. It said that even if more than half of the workforce did not like the way their managers were doing their job, less that a quarter would like to be at their place.

Long is the road…