Employees are not necessary evils; with the right ideas, they can be nurtured into valuable and productive assets.

Male exec smiling at deskCorporate crisis tends to rear its ugly head now and then; a hydra of old, it has many visages that can cause untold misfortune and misery in the workplace. One such ‘head’  that has manifested appears to be a shortage of efficient people in managerial levels who can effectively and conclusively manage teams and troubleshoot problems as they arise.

Let’s face it – if you have a good manager, chances are very high that somebody else will be willing to ‘steal’ him or her away from you at all costs. Hiring someone else may be an obstacle simply because there is no one else of that capacity to hire.

Naturally, a variety of solutions exist but one idea has been making concrete waves in the workplace pool. It has been termed revolutionary; in fact the sheer novelty of the idea itself has made it a buzzword. Self-management, be it of teams or individual employees, is a solution that may  to counter the very real shortage of people of managerial capacity and capability. Whatever else it may be, it is certainly the highest form of empowerment that exists in today’s workplace arena. Needless to say, there is a lot of scepticism revolving around the very idea of self-management itself and it has certainly been very slow to catch on, not in the least due to a general reluctant malaise from management itself.

The more enthusiastic proponents, on the other hand, tend to label self-management as a win-win strategy. After all, its very nature is to get employees fully involved and enthusiastic in their jobs – from the most basic of customer relationship to more complex task specific needs. It allows and encourages improvement in their jobs especially where effectiveness is concerned.

Of course, it is important to distinguish between self-management and leadership as both ideas are concurrent yet quite distinct. They both involve some form of original action or idea from the concerned party, but when it comes to self-management, it is more initiative-based as opposed to actual leading. You take the initiative to do things and better yourself and your job aspects; you create varied and efficient paths towards betterment. With leadership, you tend to trail blaze in an expert manner and expect others to follow along the very path that you have carved.

Self-management in itself is not a new concept; in fact it has been around for centuries. Look at the agriculturist, the fisherman and the young entrepreneur – they incorporate the discipline of self-management in their line of work as no other alternative exists for them. If they do not follow the strictest tenet of self-management, then they will most certainly experience failure.

As technology and innovation experiences rapid cyclic evolution, self-management is starting to make its presence felt in vocations of a different nature. The corporate world, however, has shown resistance, with the major obstacle in its implementation coming from management itself. Indeed, the very development and installation of these ideas and tenets would require the need for new management information and data, but there is no guarantee that all are willing to or are able to bite into this radical pie.

Convincing the top management, especially managers, is essential in experimenting and nurturing self-management ideologies; getting their commitment is what would really make this a ‘win-win situation.” Management has long been viewed as ‘command and control centres’, used to telling, supervising, leading and setting down rules. To revolutionize and instill change in this anachronistic part of the corporate world would require readiness and unconditional acceptance from all parties concerned.

Self-management is a great idea that has many things going for it, provided the correct guidelines are followed. Employee satisfaction and loyalty, motivated and highly energized work attitudes, and high ratings of success are the benefits of a self-management ideology that has been implemented in the correct manner.

What does it take to make self-management work? Proponents tend to advocate small team sizes and appropriate entry-level employees. Selecting the right kind of people who can work together in the given environment s what really makes the difference between success and failure. Of course, you don’t always manage to secure the right kind of ‘people’; in such cases, intensive and extensive training would need to be given. Then again, training is for the acquisition of skills and knowledge and any corporation that views training as anathema is not the kind of place you may want to build your future upon.

Getting the right kind of people, and training them in the right manner, will also limit personality conflicts ensuring a smooth transition of between start-up to the delivery of the end results. Self-management would also need good SOPs and work structures, to ensure that the team does not collapse upon itself or that an individual does not lose track of what essential responsibility needs to be observed. An efficient self-management initiative would be to provide essential training so that the employee is empowered to use their newly acquired knowledge and ancillary technology to expand the theme of self-management itself.

Process is of paramount importance; understanding and nurturing human development is essential to the success criteria of any organization. Self-managed teams can use their self-management disciplines to achieve success in their projects or recruit others who will be able to also employ self-management tenets and achieve success. What you get at the end of the day are work teams that actually work and are buzzing with new ideas.

The final step would be to ensure that there are enough incentives to make self-management worthwhile to the prospective employee. Rapid-success programmes along the corporate ladder, target-specific bonuses, performance incentives, fringe benefits, are all enticements that can be used to procure the right person who can make the difference between success and failure.

Self-management has the ability to change workplace views of employees as mere drones; it has the capacity to instill values in employees that management can and should recognize; it makes the workplace itself a place where recognition and interest work hand in hand to lay the foundations of success. Self-management is a herald of the new era of workplace mantra, and the management that does not chant this song may just not have anything to sing about before long.

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