What Ever Happened to the Personal Touch?
MBWA (Management By Walking Around) was a term coined by Tom Peters a number of years ago. It became a corporate mantra that all organizations were required to do. Show your face once in a while to the people who are doing the work for you and you will know more about what is going on and your people will be more motivated to do a better job. Unfortunately, this notion has become passé in the electronic age. Below are a few examples of management styles that are now the norm in the technological world we live in.
MBEM (Management By E-Mail) has become the most popular form of supervision in the New Millennium. Face-to-face contact has been replaced by screen to screen communication. MBEM is faster, cheaper and can get the message out to a large number of people is a very short period of time. E-mail is a good form of communicating simple messages. However, MBEM has become so prevalent that many individuals will only communicate via this medium. Often, there are no more telephone calls or personal discussions, only e-mails sent back and forth with cc’s to 20 other employees of the firm – so that all can share in the back and forth banter.
Special care must be used when communicating via e-mail as many senders (myself included) do not consider how intended sarcasm and humor will be taken by the reader. E-mail is not a good means of communication when a dialog is needed. Computer screens do not respond well to questions.
Couple e-mail with instant messaging, text messaging and the increased use of Blackberries and you can see why people are becoming increasingly stress out by the sheer volume of electronic information they receive on a daily basis. Many have become so overwhelmed with their e-mail that it is virtually impossible to respond to everything.
MBGPS (Management by Global Positioning System) is the latest and greatest of the management philosophies. Many trucking and delivery companies have equipped their vehicles with GPS devices to monitor their drivers and improve efficiencies with dispatching and inventory management.
The State of Florida recently announced that the caseworkers for the Florida Department of Children and Families will now be given Global Positioning System devices to monitor their location in an effort to help track and monitor at-risk children. The hand held units will have a GPS, a camera and internet access and are intended to replace the old paper system of writing information down and then typing it into a computer when they get back to the office. We are still unsure how this is better than a laptop and cell phone, but we have a sneaking suspicion that this is not just for the at- risk children, but a way to closely monitor the travels of the caseworkers.
MBACD (Management By Automatic Call Distribution) has been used by call centers for many years now. Employees in such environments are continuously micro-managed with statistics on their availability time, time per call and idle time. Many are so closely monitored with Gestapo like performance expectations that the call center has turned into the sweat shop of the electronic age. Just last week, I contacted the call center of a very large Fortune 50 company with three questions that needed to be addressed. After the second question the customer service representative told me I was taking too long, and that she was not permitted to be on one call for more than 90 seconds. She asked me to hang up and call back with my third question. Not wanting to cause trouble, I complied with the request. After all it was not her fault. The blame can only be placed on the management folks who only knew MBACD and not MBCS (Management By Common Sense).
This gives rise to a few other leadership styles including MBIM – Management By Instant Messaging; BBMS – BlackBerry Management Style and MBVM – or Management By Voice Mail in which the manager never answers the phone, screens all calls and goes into the company voice mail system to leave message to avoid speaking with anyone directly. Millennials or Generation Y individuals seem to be able to communicate more via electronic means than by verbal discussions. Many feel more comfortable communicating via text and instant messaging. With this generation, the term “all thumbs” is a compliment as it means they are able to text message with the best of them.
As a Baby Boomer, I have to admit that I am old fashioned. I type too slowly or too badly for instant messaging to be useful. My thumb – eye coordination is not good enough for text messaging and I have been warned by many not to get a BlackBerry if I want to get anything accomplished. Many have started calling them a CrackBerry Because they can’t live without it. So I have my cell phone and a laptop with a wireless card and believe that there is no better way of managing than by using a bit of the personal touch.
So start having coffee and talking now and again. Who knows, you may discover something about your employees. If nothing else, you may learn what they look like.
Special thanks to Ben Kinsey of the Small Business Group, Michelle Murphy of Corporate Care Works and Omar Farhat of All Lines Insurance for their referrals this past month. We are pleased that you trust us to take care of your client’s Human Resources needs.
Also thanks to Jim Hawkinson, President of Total Lawn Care, a commercial lawn service in town, who is willing to share this document with others who may want to add such wording to their working agreements. Jim has been cited in the Jacksonville Business Journal for conducting thorough background screening for his potential employees. If you use employees to go into people homes, it would be worth your while to look at this – TLC Engagement Letter.