Where is the Beef?
Sunday, September 9, 2007
How to find out what any given management strategy is doing to power
Beef is the metaphor for formal, legal, power. If the average employee in a firm does not have clearly spelled out legal rights to hold managers and others accountable for their actions and promises, then the management program that is in place is merely management style without much creditability.
It is only psychological empowerment. It is not structural (Sociological) empowerment. Therefore, the risk of proving Michels’ Iron law less effective and can become only symbolic because there is virtually no way to preserve it during times of managerial stress (i.e. Karen Horney).
The carefully crafted organic/democratic structure is the sociological empowerment that acts like a safety net during times of organizational and/or individual stress, e.g. a business recession or other jolt.
Crafting the structure is what is rarely done during participative management programs and during the organic “phase” of an organization’s development (i.e., the phase in the organization life). Therefore, the seeds of oligarchy are sewn and participative management strategies are quickly seen as manipulative and just another fad by most of the people in the firm.
If managers who are designing organizations inform their design with Lipset, Trow, and Coleman’s findings at I.T.U. (i.e. ownership (ESOP), relevant and mentoring administrative, technical, interpersonal, and personal knowledge distribution, status equalization, and structured in requirements for participation) they no longer leave the organic “phase” of an organization to random chance.
Instead they produce a permanent democratic structure, which acts as a safety net in times of organizational and personal crisis. The safety net is a structure that enforces balanced formal power relationships when there is great and temporary pressures to bureaucratize. The net also prevents the subtle and insidious pressures described by Michels. This environment produces a DEMOCRATICALLY MANDTED HIERARCHY which makes decision making efficient and matches the talent with the job (esp. managerial talent!) and also designs the job to match the talent. These structures eliminate supervision and therefore free up mangers for technical and administrative consultation - that is, to actually manage instead of just be a "boss" who merely polices and bribes subordinates into productivity instead of managing.