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Owen Morgan

Penna plc

Commercial And Operations Director

Read more about Owen Morgan

We must move away from parent/child management styles


Some people believe that management and parenting are very closely intertwined. In fact, managers that show compassion, encourage the development of their staff and make an effort to understand the challenges they face might be considered the most popular. Employees often feel they particularly benefit from this typically nurturing approach. Whilst there is always a place for a supportive role model in any organisation, there are various factors which are prompting a marked shift towards less dependent relationships between managers and their teams.

With current news headlines painting a far more positive picture of our economy and the jobs market, organisations are increasingly optimistic, and are more willing to invest in future growth. Confidence is improving as strategy turns away from ‘survival’ towards a more robust and brighter future,

Employees too are now more likely to consider personal progression, including whether they are ready to move on to a new role to further their career. So what does this mean for leading employees and organisations? Will they now demand more from their teams in order to advance their organisational performance? And if so, will they rely on a paternalistic approach, deciding what is best for their employees and giving them clear instructions on what they need to do to help push the company and themselves forward?

The best managers are said to be those who are able to flex their style according to the situation, so it’s likely that as we emerge from the recession, different approaches are being applied in organisations throughout the UK. However it’s clear that giving employees more responsibility for their own progression not only benefits them, but also the company.  Whilst structured development plans, combined with support and encouragement from managers are great, it’s even better if the employee is genuinely engaged in their creation. Creating an environment where employees are in charge of their own development, and have the opportunity to shape it with the support of their manager is key. In short, the approach is almost symbiotic and can have a dramatic impact on how empowered and confident the employee feels. Not only is this a powerful engagement tool, it can also help unlock hidden talents within employees who may be able to fashion careers that truly play to their strengths and passions.

So how do managers move towards this more balanced approach? Some managers can struggle to give up a parental management style; however there are ways that they can engender a sense of control within their employees when it comes to their career progression. Relinquishing some of the control they may have held throughout challenging economic times and giving it back to the employee can be a good start. Whilst, this new, balanced relationship can result in some employees leaving the organisation as they seek progression elsewhere, managers should take a pragmatic view that they will retain the talent who are genuinely engaged, who want to get ahead and who want to play a key role in the future success of the company. Those that do decide to move on will have essentially made that decision themselves thanks to mature consideration of a number of factors. Whilst some may not see this as an immediate benefit to the organisation, in the longer term it’s better to see people move on than remain, resolutely disengaged at the lack of current career opportunities within the organisation,

So, whilst it might feel strange for managers to put employees in charge of their career progression, the rewards are enormous. Not only does it reduce what can be a significant HR burden in terms of devising very prescriptive progression frameworks for each employee, it also results in an engaged and motivated team who feel in control of their own destiny and feel they have a clear role within the company, both now and in the future.

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Owen Morgan

Commercial And Operations Director

Read more from Owen Morgan

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