Its true: never has the world been so connected, and never has offered us so many possibilities for remote management or access to vast quantities of data. But does this mean we should reduce management to a matter of tools, objectives, processes and indicators?
Yes, management does include a necessary dimension of control, reporting and objective quantification. No, management has never limited itself to implementing and overseeing data tables and apps to produce them. Managing a team is not just a matter of ensuring that there are green lights all the way, lambasting those who fall behind schedule, or setting up the indicators needed to avoid doing the job oneself. It is also – and has always been – taking the time to choose individuals, build with them a collective dynamic, and nurture them over the long term, in a spirit of loyalty, respect, and interaction. How can we ensure the loyalty of the teams, otherwise? How can we ensure employees will be committed? How can we help those who need it to make progress? And help those who are struggling? What if we have to do so from afar, without seeing others, always separated by screens? The fact that online restaurant delivery people are currently protesting in the streets is probably because their working conditions were unilaterally tightened… but it is also because they don’t even anyone to speak about them anymore! And because the “everything on-line / everything on app / self-care and no direct contact or as little as possible” model advocated by a certain modernity is nothing but a technological mask, which does little to hide the profound harshness of an approach aimed above all at cutting operating costs.
“…managing means having a taste for others…”
The iconic Claude Onesta, the coach of the “Experts”, the highly successful French Handball Team – well known to our companies where he shares some of his best methods – repeats every time he has the opportunity to do so: “managing means having a taste for others“. We should not choose managers only for their expertise or loyalty, but always for their ability to take an interest in others, respect them, and their desire to make progress with and through them. This is all the more valid today, where teams are often more distant, less directly involved, between offshoring and remote offices. When a manager in La Défense coordinates the efforts of an international team decentralised between London, Frankfurt and Madrid, what is there to guarantee that everyone will feel they should care about this joint project? What is it that continues to enable the affectio societatis needed to truly work successfully together, if not precisely the interest which work stirs in each and everyone, and the opportunities it will create to demonstrate it? Without this taste for others, management is nothing but rationalised tyranny. And, without harmony, performance is an abstract and vain objective.
If “science without conscience is only a ruin of soul“, as Rabelais said already in his time, performance without conscience could indeed be the ruin of the company, especially if it is ultimately deserted by all those who truly want to experience a collective adventure there. If the company is nothing but a technological and financial coordination of isolated individuals left to their own devices, it may well have no future ahead of it at all.
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