Managers: It’s time to step on the gas

Todd Lappin under a Creative Commons License

We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. To achieve success firms need to be as competitive in the talent market as they are in the markets where they sell their products and services. For that reason more companies decide to review and introduce changes in their people management practices, in order to adapt them to radically different scenarios.

Yet changes in this field are often more superficial and slower than the changes in the wider world. And this leads to a widening gap between what companies need and what they get from management practices that in many cases, instead of helping them, slow them down. And therefore limit their ability to adapt to that new environment.

This lack of depth and speed is due to various reasons. In some cases the cause lies in the cognitive frames of many business leaders — and many employees: the mental models they have developed throughout their professional life as a result of their education and experience.

Elsewhere, resistance comes from the individual interests of managers who, consciously or unconsciously, are not willing to abandon their comfort zones, or compensation systems designed to reward short-term gains rather than their contribution to the agility of the organization.

Sometimes the paralysis of certain people, or even entire functions, is the result of their defense of structures and processes that are the reason for their existence.

And there are organizations where the main obstacle is fear. Managers who are afraid of losing control and power, or fear evidencing their level of incompetence.

In addition, in too many organizations people management practices are not the result of a reflection on what the company really needs given its particular circumstances, but a consequence of the tendency to adopt standard solutions under uncertainty, the lack of diversity among its leaders, or the belief that there are one-size-fits-all recipes that work for any organization no matter its situation.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that too many companies are not transforming their people management practices as quickly and deeply as a world in permanent beta demands, and too many business leaders are unaware of the risk they run because of that. They see some things are changing and they have the feeling they are on the right track. But still, most of them neither move quickly enough nor realize how high the stakes are if they don’t step on the gas.

Link to Spanish version.

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