Are you a Management Relic?

 Image downloaded from flickr:  Chris Smart

Image downloaded from flickr: Chris Smart



As we grow older we receive cues that time is moving on - physical ones like greying hair and body shape becoming reminiscent of our parents;  social ones like not understanding the latest music or going to bed as your adult children head out on the town.

But one thing that we can count on getting better over time is professional position. Years in service brings with it terms like ’experienced’ and ‘seasoned’. If you perform a role long enough the title is prefixed with ‘senior’ to indicate to co-workers that you deserve respect. 

Or so it used to. 

ˈrɛlɪk/ noun

a person or thing that has survived from an earlier time but is now outmoded.

In today’s world 25 years of service is more likely to conjure up terms like ‘old-fashioned’, ‘traditional’ or the cut to the heart ‘relic’. 

Times are changing quickly and along with them are traditional views on management. Being open to seeing opportunity and possibility in change will be the key to prosperity. Business success today is age agnostic. 

An admiration for years in service will be replaced with ‘what have you done for me lately?’.

I’ll fall short of calling it a young person’s game. Well short actually, as I approach the mid-century mark myself. I’m fuelled by the direction of business today. What a fantastic opportunity we have to bring our individuality and unique talents to work, rather than squeezing them into a plastic suit until even we no longer remember what they are. 

If you’re a manager of people you may be - or soon to become, a relic.  And the signs aren’t as outwardly obvious as middle age paunch and grey hair. They’re especially hidden if your entire workplace is stuck in another era thereby insulating you from the reality outside.

Here is a quick checklist that may help you identify whether you’re moving into relic territory:

You think people work for you.

A manager's role isn’t to dole out tasks and sit on people until they complete them. 

It’s to guide a group of people to a singular result. Clear the widest path for your team; ask how you can help facilitate their progress; identify individual talents and nurture them; have tough conversations with an eye to improvement. Your job is to create the biggest possible value pie given the group of people who have entrusted their careers to you. Every individual should grow under your leadership.

You track time, not results

I once developed software used to perform Time and Motion studies on an auto assembly line. In that context minute time tracking made sense. In most professional contexts it doesn’t. There's an inherent message of mistrust when an employee has to account for every hour of their time. Manage the books by tracking a bigger picture and stop counting the beans.

You measure personal output daily or weekly

This is a close cousin to the above but generally performed as a separate activity. Achieving business goals is about maximising intellectual brain power, human motivation and momentum - give people enough space to fuse those human elements into a result. Lead your team towards a bigger goal, don’t count the steps along the way.

You believe people need specific direction to achieve a desired result.

Micro-management has been out of fashion for awhile. If you’re still doing this you lose 2 points. 

You know everything there is to know about your business.

If you’re resting on the laurels of your uni degree, work experience and an annual conference you’re in trouble. Read what's going on in your industry every day. Read what's going on in other industries every day to keep an eye out for disruptors. Talk to your team about what you read. Challenge yourself to practice a new behaviour or learn something new every day. Every single day. 

You believe creating long-term plans and sticking to them equate to success.

Keep your goals long-term and your execution plans short-term. Things are changing too fast to predict how you’re going to get to a far away destination. And there’s no reward for completing a plan on time and on budget if what is achieved is no longer relevant. 

If you do think you’re becoming a bit of a relic, don’t despair. Anybody can change at any age. But, it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not going to happen if you don’t really believe you should. 

The results, however, are re-energizing, inspiring and well worth the effort. 



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