Keeping up with the changing world requires constant innovation — and this includes hiring. Evolving technology, the shifting generational makeup of the workforce, and a candidate-centric market[...]
February 18, 2020Read More
As the modern workforce continues to evolve, once familiar leadership structures are changing. There are countless moving parts, departments and stakeholders -- all with their own objectives and strategic visions for the organization. Businesses of all sizes find themselves immersed in a talent culture that’s made up of freelancers, Statement of Work contractors, gig workers, supertemps and independents -- skilled people who’ve chosen the freedom of this lifestyle. They are at the heart of a vivid paradigm shift we’ve never encountered before.
The complexity of today’s technology and business practices deeply impacts the workforce, particularly as it grows more blended and nuanced. Rigid structures can no longer accommodate the elaborate interactions that need to occur between growing numbers of technologies, stakeholders and talent categories in a given enterprise. Not surprisingly, a lot of industry discussions have moved beyond strategies for engaging and recruiting top talent; much of the brainstorming taking place deals with how to tackle the issue of managing this unique population of flexible professionals.
It’s imperative to our ongoing success that we hire -- and manage -- talent differently. The question is how? The answer could very well spring from the management approaches championed by MSPs.
Managing Talent Requires the Finesse and Balance of a Tightrope Walker
When seismic shifts occur, people can unwittingly run to the extremes of the spectrum. Some leaders believe an unfettered holacracy is the solution. On the other side are those who view the idea as anarchy, and instead favor tighter controls. For MSPs, the issue is more complicated. They can’t let workers manage themselves and they can’t rule with an ironclad grip. And they don’t. MSPs have historically produced optimal results by striking a delicate balance as they walk this tightrope.
The most visible example of a working holacracy is Zappos. In 2013, Tony Hsieh began developing a model that was half traditional management and half holacracy. Two years later, he famously told his 1,500 employees that management positions would disappear entirely. He called on his workers to embrace this self-directed style or resign. And close to 20 percent of the Zappos workforce did leave. Despite the shakeup, operating profits rose 78 percent. Does holacracy work? In some respects, it’s too early to tell. The more pressing query is whether the complete absence of management could succeed in an enterprise contingent labor solution. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume it wouldn’t.
Now let’s look at the other side of the debate. The impermanence and unfamiliarity of the growing contingent workforce is stirring a certain sense of insecurity with some organizational leaders. A perceived loss of control drives them to crack down more than they normally would, which leads to micromanagement. And how is this leadership style fairing? Not well, according to Gallup Poll results. In its latest study on employee engagement, Gallup concludes that less than one-third of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. The figure gets even worse when Millennials are analyzed independently. They represent the least satisfied group, at 28.9 percent. For all disengaged workers, the root cause seems to come from their impression of management.
As Crystal Spaggins noted in TLNT magazine, there are two primary classes of micromanager, both equally detrimental. Micromanagers, she writes, are those bosses who need to feel in control and obeyed. Then there are the meddlers, those managers who “need to be needed” and believe they hold all the answers to the mysteries of life, business, the universe and everything.
Regardless of their motivations, both types of control mongers can be problematic: “Both cause their employees to feel redundant, frustrated, and eventually, resentful. Many under their charge will tire of beating their heads against a wall and instead mentally check out before moving on.”
So what’s the ideal structure? In many ways, it’s the one developed by MSPs and their staffing partners -- something you might consider “compassionate delegation with engagement.”
MSPs Understand the Ins and Outs of Proper Delegation
Just as with an organic ecosystem, the hiring ecosystem requires symbiotic cooperation. Organisms delegate duties in order to ensure the proper functioning of the entire entity, and so do stakeholders in an enterprise contingent workforce program. When hiring managers make the wise decision to enlist an MSP, they are essentially delegating certain responsibilities intelligently.
Meanwhile, MSPs are delegating certain responsibilities to their staffing partners who, in turn, assign specific tasks to their talent teams. In the end, however, this type of systematic and well-defined delegation fosters transparency as well as independence. A project team mindset arises that empowers talent to exercise greater degrees of initiative, alignment with internal and external customer needs, and assume more personal accountability for their performance.
Ultimately, MSPs help build thriving micro-cultures within the macro-culture of the client’s organization. Every company has a culture, defined at the top for the business. However, different micro-cultures exist at the team level. Finance and customer service are distinct teams with unique drivers, skills and roles. They also have different cultures. To build a stellar team, MSPs collaborate with their staffing partners to hire individuals who mesh well with the ideals and culture of the groups they’ll serve.
MSPs Manage Through a Balance of Best Practices
It’s clear that MSPs don’t allow staffing suppliers and their talent to run riot through the client enterprise. Yet they do cultivate productive elements of both holacratic and traditional management styles. And in their compassionate delegation, they also utilize a refined approach to an engaging, non-meddling type of micromanagement.
Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is known for his sometimes stark management philosophies. His fondness for micromanagement comes as no shock. What’s fascinating is his definition of micromanagement: “Get very close to your people and their work when they need you -- that is, when your help matters -- and pull back when you’re extraneous.”
He expounds on the idea further: “Your help matters when you have highly relevant experience that no one else on the team brings, and your presence sets an example of best practices -- and prevents costly mistakes… Micromanaging only stinks when bosses do it because they have nothing better to do, or they’re constitutionally unable to trust people, employees included. I’d never support that.”
So what Welch is really championing is engagement, guidance, mentoring and development -- all rich elements of a world-class MSP program.
MSP Program Management Incorporates the Best of All Worlds
MSPs have the time, attention, expertise and commitment to focus on the talent population. Their balanced approach to workforce management creates engagement and high performance.
A Blended Workforce Thrives with a Blended Management Approach
Today’s workforce is a vibrant, colorful and multicultural wonder. With so much variety and potential, it seems unlikely that adopting a black-and-white management stance will produce the best results. In the end, too much freedom or too much oppression can’t ensure engagement or performance. That’s why companies today need an MSP more than ever. In a blended workforce, a blended management style is the key to success.