The corporation of the future will surely represent a serious difference from today’s corporate environments on many issues including the structure, organisation, management patterns, communication, technology, leadership patterns, and the rest. The roles of major players including employees, managers, investors and other stakeholders are also going to change. The cornerstone of organisational development, the management-employee relations and the role of the manager inside the organisation is likely to undergo a profound change.
In today’s organisations, the roles of the worker and the manager are typically sharply delineated. Every employee realizes the scope of his or her own duties, and if someone has a problem with such understanding, this person is quickly shown where one’s responsibilities end, and the role of the manager begins. A change in the worker-manager division of labor would begin with greater flexibility in defining who will perform managerial duties. This trend is visible today when employees are assembled in project teams and given temporary or permanent assignments that they had never tackled before. In the organisation of the future, as the expertise and knowledge of workers will increase, the manager will have greater freedom when he or she steps out of the office and appoints others to oversee the process. As rank-and-file employees increase their capacity for decision-making, shifts in power will become less noticeable because people will be able to fulfil more duties than they do today.
In consequence, being in the managerial role will not be seen as an opportunity to domineer and oppress others, but more as additional responsibility. Managers will shed part of their patronizing attitude and begin to see themselves as individuals that simply ‘happened’ to be in this position. Once again, when employees will begin to work more on a project basis, more people will be able to try on the role of a leader. The managerial function will no longer be something exceptional, achieved only by some individuals out of many, but will be seen as a routine part of life – today I am supervising you, tomorrow you will oversee what I do when we come to the area in which you have more knowledge.
To some degree, this will be a negative change. Young employees formerly could treat their bosses like fathers who give them guidance in every aspect of their work will no longer be able to use this patriarchal model of support. Instead, their managers will encourage them to undertake managerial functions as early as possible. As a result, some may find this mounting responsibility from the early years of their careers overwhelming. Formerly, many graduates started their employment with positions that were purely administrative. As IT and other forms of technology evolve, administrative positions will likely soon be eliminated totally or in part. The new entrants to the profession will thus sooner move to independent positions and later to managerial ones. One can expect the managers to become much younger in age as a result of this development.
This rise to managerial positions will likely be facilitated by the shift in the manager’s role in decision-making. Previously, the manager was most often the person who unilaterally made the decision after consulting as many viewpoints as he or she thought fit. In the future, decisions will most likely be made by groups, and the manager will act as facilitator of the discussion and the arbiter in crafting the final decision. This will happen as more and more corporations will recognize the importance of employee empowerment in decision-making. The manager will certainly retain a lot of ‘political’ power over various policy-making processes inside the organisation, but in this role the manager’s authority, now unchallenged, will be counterbalanced by the power of the group. Employee empowerment initiatives will make this power real. The manager, in contrast, will often be the consulting voice whose authority will depend more on the rapport with the group. Groups may finally even get a voice in the choice of their managers.
In this way, appointment of managers ‘from without’ will become less frequent. Few managers who have been transferred from other departments or organisations will be able to find good understanding with people in a specific unit. Thus, one will see more ‘home-grown’ managers who have been raised to new positions within the same organisation.
Overall, both the responsibilities and the functions of the managers can be expected to change. Managers will be in greater need of interpersonal skills, relegating more knowledge-based decision-making to their employees. While the role of managers will remain important, in the future corporation the participation of managers and employees will be dramatically redefined, strengthening the role of the employees in these relations.
Six Sigma. Employee Empowerment As A Management Style. 20 Mar. 06 <http://www.isixsigma.com/library/content/c000527.asp>.
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