Command & Control in the Time of The Great Recession

     Just when I think Companies are truly – if reluctantly – giving up Command & Control Management, along comes “the Great Recession” and Command & Control once again rears its ugly and destructive head!  But why not?  In times of uncertainty, when Companies are experiencing situations beyond their control (i.e. massive loss of business and profit), there is a strong desire to regain some control over the business and the easiest way to achieve that goal is to assert control over those who have no choice but to accept it: the Employees.       The problem with this reversion back to Command & Control Management is that when “the Great Recession” is over, those same Employees are going to remember being treated like children and resent it for a long time. They may forgive but they won’t forget and that will damage long term productivity and loyalty. An illustrative case in point is the public’s response to the Command & Control measures instituted by President Bush after the 9/11 attack.  Necessary?  Probably. A killer to his presidency after the crisis had passed?  Absolutely!  While the overriding temptation is to respond to a crisis by becoming Theory X Managers, my strong recommendation is to resist that temptation and continue to treat Employees like adults who have something to contribute and are valued members of the Company’s Team.          Here are some signs that Command and Control is creeping back into the Company:1.      There is an “I” in Team –There is no longer any collaboration and inclusion by Employee Team Members in decision making because Supervisors/Managers are making all the operational decisions. 2.      “If I want your opinion I’ll give it to you” – No one is listening to Employees and their opinions about how to improve the operation to survive the current crisis.  3.      “You can’t handle the truth” – Information about the condition of the company is withheld because Employees don’t need to know and might cry if they knew the truth. 4.      The sky is falling – Supervisors/Managers are constantly freaking out, taking away any sense of security and offering little hope for the future. 5.      “You are lucky you still have a job” - Supervisors/Managers stop recognizing/ rewarding above and beyond performance because Employees are lucky to have jobs. 6.      “We can’t afford no stinkin’ Training & Developing Programs” The Company stops any training and developing programs which makes “Doing more with less, but doing it better!” difficult for Employees to achieve. 

The Bottom Line: Command & Control Management is vanishing not because of human nature (which dictates that we control every situation we can get our hands around) but because the workforce will no longer tolerate being treated like children.  To survive the current WorkQuake ™ , the “Great Recession” and thrive in the Knowledge Economy, Companies need Employees who are capable of innovation, creativity and commitment to the Company’s Vision. Companies won’t get that long term behavior by imposing Command & Control techniques on their Employees during this economic crisis.

Questions: Is your Company reverting to Command & Control?  And will this hurt long term performance?

Contact me at paulglover@ trainingverydayleaders.com or at glovergroup@twitter.com for more discussions about the WorkQuake(tm)

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