4.2. Today's Management Environment
It has been estimated that the amount of information contained in one issue of the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times is more information than people processed in a year a century ago. We're all hit with the onslaught of informationfrom television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, e-mail, to the Internet news and blogs. We get information instantly and we scan, absorb, reject, and move on. A century ago, a manager was in the position to have all the needed information and could make informed decisions for the people who worked for that manager. Today, managers are more like traffic cops, trying to direct the efforts of those in the organization toward a common goal while avoiding head-on collisions. The manager is no longer in the best position to know everything and make all the decisions. Instead, a manager must rely upon the people on his or her team to have expertise and to take initiative. However, at the same time this is needed, people are more mobile and less committed to employers than they were one hundred years ago. Today's manager needs to find a way to foster commitment and initiative with employees who are likely to change careers five times and hold ten or more jobs over their lifetimes. In order to manage this workforce, an effective manager must use new tools to achieve desired results.
Commitment and initiative are more important when managers have to process so much information that they are no longer the "experts" but the "generalists." Increasingly, companies must depend on highly skilled employees to think and act intelligently on behalf of the company since they have the technical knowledge, the imagination, and the connection with customers, vendors, and the marketplace. Technology has had a significant impact on the way we work and process information. A successful manager today must be able to mobilize employees to figure out how to get more done with less; a successful manager must find ways to inspire commitment and initiative to get the best possible results; and a successful manager must understand what challenges employees face to clear roadblocks and provide the best possible environment for success. That's a tall order, but in this chapter, we're going to look at some of the ways you can do just that.