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Our Dysfunctional Workplace!

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By Gail Sturgess – Certified Human Capital Strategist

There is a lot going on between HR and Line Management in most companies today. Trying to decide what their roles are in relation to “people management” in the organization, who is responsible for what, and how they will play an effective part. There are many ideas and the development of “people management” as an organizational function, follows a “maturity” pattern that is now fairly well defined.

However, all this maneuvering does not take into account what is actually happening in most workplaces still today. And, if we are to move forward, this needs to be both understood and acknowledged.

The problem is that our workplace is currently dysfunctional – not all workplaces, but surely most of them! Dysfunctional – why? Well, for most organizations “management” is still steeped in the concepts and practices of the “industrial era”. “Management” today are mostly either late “Baby Boomers” or “Early Generation X” – meaning, between the age of 45 and 55.

This “generation” of management was brought up on concepts such as “Theory X” and “Theory Y”. If they were trained in “management”, they were trained in the “Four Functions of Management” as being:

  • Plan – Planning requires administration to assess where the company / function / department / team is presently going, and where it would be in the future.
  • Organize – Management must organize all its resources to put into practice the course of action to achieve what was planned.
  • Direct – The control and supervision of the staff within their span of control.
  • Control – Establishing performance standards that are of course based on the company’s objectives.

But the problem is, the workforce has now changed, and this “style” of management is just no longer applicable.
What was successful in getting our organizations to where they are today, is no longer applicable to ensuring their success in the future. Have a look at the graphic below. On the left are the different “requirements” of people in the workplace. The graphic itself shows, at the top, how managers today are still trying to manage, and, at the bottom, how the workforce of today wants and needs to be managed.


In “First Break all the Rules”, Marcus Buckingham identifies the new “Four Functions of Management”:

  • Select – Select the talent, not just skills and experience, for the company and for the position.
  • Set Expectations – Define and agree the job outcomes, responsibilities and performance, not just the tasks.
  • Motivate – Transform each person’s unique talents into performance.
  • Develop – Develop each individual to find the right fit in the organization, not just the next step up in the hierarchy, by building on strengths.

This is Human Capital Management. Human Capital Management is the new competence that every manager should have going into the future.