In the last two weeks, I have had conversation after conversation with people who are stressed and exhausted from the demands being made upon them in the work place and life. When some of them describe the constant ‘management’ they are under in their workplaces, I give thanks once again that I run my own business.

They are describing micromanagement unprecedented in human history. The work practices that have become rampant include:

  • Daily executive coaching
  • Daily reporting to the layer of management above you and daily reporting from the layer of management below you – whatever happened to monthly reports and getting on with the job in the way you see best
  • Hourly monitoring of activities via laptop usage – if you are allowed to work from home, your keyboard usage is monitored to ensure you are consistently working
  • Consistent monitoring of amount and content of email messages
  • Consistent monitoring of number of phone messages and questioning whether standard protocol and script is being followed
  • Daily monitoring of KPI targets
  • The inclusion of meetings in planners without prior discussion, sometimes during the night so that you need to check your diary before you leave home in the morning to work out where you might be scheduled to go and at what time for your first meeting

I can understand the need to ensure people are performing their tasks in an adequate way, but I am failing to understand how management consultants who have suggested these changes cannot see the negative impact of what they are doing.

You are producing a employees who must follow rigid guidelines in a prescribed way on an hourly basis. You are producing people who do not have the time or the inclination for creative thinking or problem solving. You are squashing the capacity for people to come up with new ideas or new ways of conducting business. The environment you are creating is one where no-one is game to speak up because it will impact their KPI at the end of the day and their job will be at risk. You are taking away the variety that is the spice of life when working with different people. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and a productive and healthy workplace is one where we respect this in each other and are allowed to shine at what we are great at.

My questions for the management consultants who have suggested these workplace practices and for the managers who are ruthlessly implementing them is this .. Truly, is this the type of employees and work environment you want to foster? Have you thought about the long time consequences for the business of what you are doing? What is going to happen when you need to react quickly to changes in the economy or the local market? Are you going to have anyone left on your staff who is able to think for themselves and steer the business out of dangerous waters? Are you going to have anyone left who has enough loyalty to the workplace to care?

Perhaps there is a better and smarter way we could be doing this? I will post more blog articles on mindful leadership and culture in coming weeks as an alternative to the harmful workplace practices I see around me.