At times when the business environment changes rapidly, increased complexity can make organisations inflexible. Tight goals deliver mediocrity, narrow risk taking leads to faulty decisions, rigorous performance management increases stress and intense communications still do not make sense. Employee performance becomes threatened and a slow, inflexible, fragile and outdated organisation is created; unable to address the challenges of higher dynamics and increasing uncertainty. Entrepreneur & author, Lukas Michel, explains more.

Often the first port of call is embarking upon a distorting change program or leadership quick-fix. Experienced HR leaders, however, know that traditional organisational development responses, such as executive education and behavioural coaching, fail to address these symptoms. Instead organisations must stop; creating a pause for the management team to reflect, think and learn fast. A pause which allows for a new way of thinking, managing and focus upon people.

Traditional management recipes fail to provide guidance

In November 2014, 450 leaders, academics and experts from around the world gathered in Vienna for the Global Drucker Forum where they concluded that current managerial practices are ill-suited to cope with an increasingly fast moving business environment.

Higher uncertainty challenges strategies more often and ambiguous signals make it more difficult to provide clarity. Proven management recipes such as measuring, strategising, planning, goal-setting and risk mitigation have lost their impact or interfere with the future-oriented leadership in many organisations. Motivation through control, rather than engagement, becomes the fix. But, as we know, the cure must come from addressing the causes – shifting managerial principles to a design for more self-responsibility, self-organisation, purposeful goals, flexible engagement, and decision-making through collective wisdom.

While agreement among the Forum’s participants is high on the need for ‘The Great Transformation’, from this ‘control’ management to people engaging management, the way to get there is far from clear.

The need for institutional reflection, thinking and learning

The abundance of advice, standardised recipes, people fixes and best practice employee motivation tips simply miss the point; increasing distorted interferences and limiting performance.

As every business and leader is unique, the organisational context varies, and the specific situation is always different. Therefore there is no one size-fits all solution. Instead, we must pause for self-initiated individual reflection, thinking, and learning in order to provide the help for the much needed transformation. This is what we call ‘Diagnostic Mentoring’; decoding the root cause of interferences and unlocking the potential of organisations based on a new design of management.

Diagnostic Mentoring builds on awareness, focus, choice and trust

As Peter Drucker once said, ‘much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.’ So instead, enable your organisation to cope with turbulence, complexity and performance issues by de-cluttering the business and adopting a Diagnostic Mentoring approach which follows these four steps:

  • Diagnose: create awareness for the critical assumptions and principles. Use diagnostic tools to initiate deep reflection.
  • Interpret: observation points help leaders to focus their attention on the potential and interferences. The conversation on what works initiates fast learning.
  • Design: the task is to integrate your team’s choice of model and capabilities and leaves the energy with the people that do the work.
  • Develop: institutionalising the new design is all about trust in people. More often than not, your organisation already has the skills to lead with the new design.

As a result, decisions are made faster, the organisation responds in an agile manner, it is more robust, and overall your management has a higher ability to act in turbulent times. Diagnostic Mentoring is the pause needed for a new design at lower reduced cost and more time for what matters most: people!

Lukas Michel’s new book, Management Design, is out now.

Written by Lukas Michel

Lukas Michel

Lukas has 30 years’ experience as a senior executive in global corporations with responsibility for strategy, HR and performance. Author of The Performance Triangle and Management Design, he offers a visual thinking approach to help leaders and managers think more easily, make decisions, and act in line with company goals and objectives.

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