In a traditional setting, management functions as part of the hierarchy. You are a manager because you have more seniority, you are more experienced and able than others. In a great company environment, the assumptions are different - you are a manager because you are effective at enabling people to do a good job. That may mean you are more experienced than them, but it certainly does not mean that you are better or more important. Tony DeNunzio, CEO of Asda, claims that you need to break down any hierarchical barriers that exist in the company: remove executive parking places, dining rooms and private offices.
You'll never create the ultimate culture if you retain symbols of seniority, class and status. At Asda we do have a private plane, but it's for anyone to use when they need to - they just have to book it.
This is a tough one. Lots of people love the trappings of seniority and it can be hard to persuade them to give it up. It is all about status and validation, and how the role gives you a feeling of authority and power. It feels good to have that outward recognition of worth, and you may not want to give it up. It is a decision that only you can make.
However, serving others also brings gains that can be just as gratifying, if not more so. Being part of a highly effective team is a great feeling and produces rewards through excellent business results. In a truly flat structure where effort, commitment and success are valued, you will be lauded for your actual worth, which is considerably more satisfying.
What to do?
Experiment with working as a team member, rather than as the manager, and see what happens:
Consider how approachable you are. If you work in an office, make sure your door is open and actively invite people in. Go to others and have a chat. Invite people to have lunch with you in the staff room or canteen. Use every opportunity to build a relation- ship that includes discussing life outside work.
If you are in a job that carries perks and trappings, experiment with giving them up for a while. If you have a separate dining room at your level, go for lunch today with everyone else and have a chat to someone you do not know.
Alternatively, take one of your people to lunch with you in the special dining room - trappings make useful treats if you share them.
Spend today thinking of yourself as serving the team and notice what difference it makes to your behaviour and their responses. Seeing yourself as equal is the first step.
Being a people manager is a great job when it fits you. Experiment with putting others before you, seeking out their potential and delighting in their success. You may find that getting your head up from the piles of work on your desk is the making of the team and the answer to work overload. When you are alone, life is not much fun. Be one of the team and work will start to look up.
As Tony DeNunzio also said ‘Take the power of people and make them extraordinary' - that is what your job is about.