Most might assume I’m talking about Twitter. The site that asked that very age old question, that no one seems to care about. Despite being a fairly basic concept, there are ways to productively use this site. Unfortunately this is the mantra of several managers. Constantly popping in and asking what you are doing.

On a recent project, the engagement manager simply ran out of ideas, so every thirty minutes one or more of the team was asked, “what are you doing? Are you working? Make sure you document that.” No wonder the project took twice as long to implement as other locations where the manager was not present. I even recall an incident where we were chastised for taking a two hour celebratory lunch on the last day of the project, that incidentally came in one week ahead of schedule and under budget.

Many, including Alvin Lim, call this slave-driving.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the term “slave driving“. It’s a term widely used in our world today, especially in the IT industry where competition is stiff. All the companies want to deliver a project in the shortest time possible to please the clients. However, the only way they can do this is to “force” their employees to work more and longer period of time….which means “slave driving“.

In some big corporations, “slave driving” is a norm. It is something they used to measure an employee’s commitment. I used to work in a company where going back on time is not encouraged. Everyone will be looking at you whenever you choose to go back at 5.30 or 6pm…..including your bosses who might be taking some “personal notes” as you walked pass. Well, as expected, I didn’t do well in the company because I was considered not committed enough even though I used to work > 14 hours a day for them.

It seems incredible that we have to develop management tools and fads like the FISH principles not to mention the writing of countless management how-to books to remind everyone that you should treat employees, clients, and yes even consultants like human beings. Of course we have structured our systems to make this 1980’s Command-and-Control style a safe-haven for the sociopathic and narcissistic managers.

The lack of institutionalized strategic planning, integrated processes, and the development of necessary infrastructure has plagued the implementation of several organization change projects. In an era where technology should promote the sharing of ideas across functional departments to facilitate the response to changing conditions (Hamlin, 2005), processes remain anything but seamless and operations are still extremely manual. Departmental silos are dense, usually by design, and virtually impenetrable, making interoffice communication and coordination nonexistent. Department heads within the same divisions do not speak to one another; staff members are not consulted about goals nor are they given an opportunity to share strategies with key decision makers. Inferences are made in a vacuum with staff quickly becoming victims. Morale plummets and motivation to improve is driven by a survival imperative rather than thoughtful, data driven decisions.  It’s time to get back to common sense managment, and most of the time that can’t be found in a book.

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