The exemplary company of the industrial period resembled a symphony orchestra – impeccably precise, harmonious, well-coordinated. Only instead of the notes and the conductor, the work was controlled by control processes and mechanisms.
In the information age, the goals and objectives of many companies and teams are no longer limited to error prevention and perfect reproduction of designs. On the contrary, they require flexibility, speed and maneuverability. Especially when it comes to a creative organization.
We offer you to be inspired by the corporate culture of the entertainment industry giant Netflix, look at existing management models and take your favorite moments to your company.
What is administrative control, no one needs to explain. The leader approves and directs the initiatives, projects, and decisions of his team. Sometimes he interferes in the work process: he tells employees what to do, arranges checks, personally corrects everything that is not done the way he would like. In other cases, he may give subordinates greater powers, avoiding direct intervention, but instead establishing various control procedures.
Many leaders use administrative procedures and mechanisms to give employees relative leeway while still maintaining control over what is done and when in the organization.
So, the manager can control the quality of work, taking measures to prevent errors: personally additionally check all orders before sending them to customers or approve the cost estimate with the last signature. Can run a goal management system and set key performance indicators (KPIs) for each employee. In the future, he will regularly monitor the progress of the work process and evaluate the contribution of employees, focusing on whether they managed to complete the tasks in the allotted time and within the allocated budget.
Managing by context is much more difficult, but employees get much more autonomy. The task of the leader is to provide the team with all the necessary information so that everyone can make informed decisions and fulfill their duties without constant supervision.
The main advantage of such a model is that the employee “pumps the skill” of decision-making and in the future is able to act independently.
Let’s imagine a situation. You are the head of a kind of modern Downton Abbey (that is, a huge family with an aristocratic accent, complex ups and downs in his personal life and a lot of money). Your adult children return to the family nest for the month of winter holidays, and you hire a cook to solve the food problem.
Your family has an uneasy relationship with food. One is a diabetic, one is a vegetarian, and one is on a low-carb diet. You know what to serve them at the table, but how will a cook who sees these people for the first time cope? You have two options.
You draw up a detailed menu and hand out a stack of recipes to the chef, clearly specifying what and when to serve. Specify how many servings to cook, and make notes where one of the ingredients must be replaced without fail. To make sure that everything is cooked perfectly and seasoned in moderation, you ask to bring each dish to sample. The cook can only scrupulously follow the instructions. Of course, he can offer his own recipes, but he still needs to get your approval. This is management by means of control mechanisms.
You discuss in detail with the cook all the needs and requests of your relatives. Explain the principles of a low-carb diet and make a list of what a diabetic can and cannot eat. Show recipes that have been successful in the past, as well as those that have been unsuccessful, and tell what you used to replace unwanted ingredients. You stipulate that every meal should include something protein, salad and at least one vegetable. Now you and the chef have about the same idea of how to succeed. You ask him to choose recipes and create a menu on his own. This is context control.
By choosing the first option, you will know exactly what will be served at the table and that homemade food will surely be enjoyed. You eliminate any possibility of error in advance. So, if the chef is not very experienced, afraid to take the initiative, or seems too timid to find interesting recipes on his own, and there are no more qualified personnel in sight, you should go for option 1. The alternative in this case will be too risky.
However, if you trust the judgment and skills of the hired chef, then option 2 promises a lot of interesting things. Let a professional pick up and try out new recipes for you – and his talent will be revealed in its entirety. He will offer far more subtle and sophisticated dishes than the prepare yourself. Even if he makes a couple of mistakes, he will immediately draw the appropriate conclusions, and your family will remember for a long time the amazing farewell banquet performed by him.
How to choose the right model?
When choosing a management model, you must first answer the question of the concentration of talent in the team. If your staff is struggling to complete tasks, you will have to vigilantly monitor the workflow and take key decisions on yourself. If you have a team of real virtuosos, they probably want freedom. Such a team is best managed by context.
However, the concentration of talent is far from the only criterion. In addition to it, it is necessary to take into account the specifics of the industry and the goals that your organization faces. Therefore, the second key question to ask when choosing a management model has to do with the purpose of your company. What is more important for you – error prevention or development?
You can carefully consider your own goals and objectives before deciding when to choose freedom and responsibility, and when it is more correct to rely on the good old rules. Here are some questions to help you decide on an approach.
Do you work in an industry where the health and safety of employees or customers depends on the success of your tasks? If yes, select the rules and regulations.
Can your mistake lead to serious consequences? If yes, select the rules and regulations.
Do you manage production and need to produce identical products in high volumes? Choose rules and regulations.
Whether you’re running an emergency clinic, testing planes, running a coal mine, or delivering medicines to patients with limited mobility, rules and procedures are indispensable. This management model has been used in most organizations for centuries, and it will not lose relevance in the foreseeable future.
However, those who work in the creative field, where innovation, speed and agility are necessary conditions for success, it would be worth abandoning the “symphony orchestra” and thinking about other musical genres.
Perhaps you design children’s toys, sell confectionery, design sportswear, or run a fusion restaurant. In any case, innovation is one of your main goals. If you have a team of real professionals, it is better to lead them with the help of context.