Is Your Management Style Stuck in the Stone Age?

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Is Your Management Style Stuck in the Stone Age?

Corporations often tout being on the leading edge of benefits and amenities, yet still maintain and promote management styles which reflect very dated philosophies.

· Agile Zone ·
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While networking with other technology professionals, the management style individuals were operating within became a topic of discussion. Inevitably, the style of management was always the "but" part of the discussion.

As an example, one person mentioned, "my employer provides an awesome laptop for me to use, tons of vacation time, the ability to work on new features - using the latest version of x, y, and z frameworks and software." Then they ended their thought by adding, "BUT, my manager ..." or something along those lines - talking about how the manager's outdated style causes all the good things of the job to become diminished.

As a pseudo test, I will provide some dated management styles so that you can see if your management style is stuck in the stone age.

1. You Must Work From the Office

When I hear that IT organizations or development teams allow little or no flexibility from where work can be completed, I cannot believe this is something that continues to exist in the year 2017. I always try to understand if this is simply a trust issue, a micro-manager factor, or a dated rule that none of the management team wants to address.

With the communication tools available today and the complimentary security/networking solutions, IT professionals can function anywhere with a WiFi connection at the same capacity that they do while at a desk in some office. In fact, one might even argue that they are more productive not being in the office at times - due to the number of distractions they receive. I know with my teams, I always strive for them to work in the place where they can best add value to the organization.

Sure, the manager cannot physically walk over to the person's desk to see the person, but that is truly more of a dated concern - likely created when individuals weren't known to have a mobile phone, that contains 10 times the capacity of the computer systems that were in place when this now-dated requirement was created.

2. Our Work Hours Are as Follows

Having set working hours is another aspect that confuses me. I remember early in my career, there was a requirement that everyone had to be in the office between 9 am and 3 pm. Some people on the team opted to arrive at work at 6 am, so they could leave at 3 pm, while others made their target start date at 9 am and worked until 6 pm.

That rule was made to establish "core hours" where people could be available for meetings. Nothing more than that ... well, except it made the employee parking lot really full during those hours during the middle of the day.

Today, audio and video conferencing solutions have resolved this issue. Checking with former coworkers at the company noted above confirmed that the core hours requirement was removed years ago.

For Agile teams, I realize there are elements in the cadence that require team member attendance. I also believe attendance for these events can be scheduled either in-person or virtually. Giving freedom for the team members who have a preference to work alternative hours (very early in the morning or late into the evening) should be a consideration - especially when the results of their contributions exceed cases when forced to work within a set window.

3. Not Being a Servant Leader

As either a consultant (an outsider looking in) or a full-time employee, I have seen that situation where the manager is focused on his/her future more than the team being managed. This type of management style will meet the necessary objectives of the current position, but place a focus on furthering their career when time should be focused on developing the members being managed.

My article, "Are You Being a Servant Leader?" talked about the importance of developing others. With all of the vast personalities that exist in today's world, there are certainly those who are more self-centered than others. However, there really isn't room for this attribute in the workplace - especially for those managing and developing others.

4. Doing Things Because They Have Always Been Done That Way

Knowing that "change" is the only constant that exists in today's world, makes me cringe when I hear the excuse that things will not change because they have always been completed a certain way.

This is no different than saying things like:

  • We are still sending paychecks in the mail (instead of using direct deposit).
  • We are still mandating the use of Blackberry devices for company-related communication (instead of providing a BYOD philosophy).
  • You must wear a suit and tie to the office every day (instead of a relaxed/no dress code).

While my examples may seem extreme, doing things for no reason other than "we have always done it that way" is no excuse for introducing changes that will make things better for the employee and the organization as a whole.

About Trust

Often, a manager's trust of the individuals on their team can be cited as a potential reason for the consequential management style. If this is truly the case, the source can either be the manager or a subset of the employees being managed.

If a manager always has trust issues, this is something that should be a career path concern, as it will certainly have an impact on the individual's ability to manage people. If the trust is centered around a subset of employees, making broad decisions based upon the actions of a select few is also not the right decision - since it will ultimately have an impact on employee retention.

In every case, trust should always be an attribute that is earned and continually proven. The manager-employee relationship is certainly no exception. Certainly, trust is a two-way street and when it is proven in both directions, the results yield very positive benefits.


I only noted a few elements to consider when evaluating your management style. I am sure more could be documented if given the time. One quality I have seen in some of my best managers is their ability to continue to take a step back to look at things through the employee's eyes - finding ways to continue to make the experience better.

After all, as I noted my article, "Is the Exit Interview Valuable?", more times than not, people leave their job because of their manager. Being a manager stuck in the stone age, certainly does not improve your chances for employee retention.

If you are a supervisor, manager, director, or hold some other leadership position and realize you are allowing these types of things to happen, it is in your power to start the process to correct these actions. While you ultimately have the power to allow stone-age management styles to happen, you will ultimately be the one required to fill the positions of those who can no longer tolerate a management style which no longer brings value to the market.

Have a really great day!

agile, devlife, management integration, scrum values

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