The Travelin' Librarian Management Inspiring Employee Creativity

Inspiring Employee Creativity



Two types of leaders dominate today’s work environment. “Controllers” prescribe standards, closely drive execution, analyze data that’s produced to progressively refine the standards, and evaluate people on their past performance. “Empowerers” prefer forward-looking discussions with direct reports. They use these to decide what work needs to be done.

Controllers run call centers that record every word and keystroke and require employees to refer to supervisors when issues unanticipated by their scripts arise.1 They see early virtual reality technologies as a tool for shortening training, minimizing on-the-job errors, and avoiding travel for meetings.2 They use dashboard tools to monitor individuals and tasks in real time, ignoring the fact that normal variation, endemic in nature, doesn’t require immediate corrective action.

Empowerers have begun emerging recently, often from industries that conduct high value-added, intellectual property-intensive work across the world. They operate in “connection and inspiration”4 environments that need employee development, rapid change, and teamwork.5 They found the Controllers’ approach problematic, as it often stopped them from prescribing precise goals beyond the short term. They also struggled to provide open-ended feedback that wasn’t conventionally positive or negative about issues in which their employees possessed greater expertise than they had. In response, they shed, or at least sharply changed, backward-looking annual performance reviews — considering them rigid, burdensome, and outdated artifacts — and replaced them with regular forward-looking conversations.6 Some use mobile apps to facilitate these discussions.

Neither of these approaches to leadership goes far enough.

Read the full article @ MIT Sloan Management Review

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