HRHeadStart #99: Building Better Managers; The Helsinki Bus Station Theory; Value of Humility
The Talent Agenda
For over a century, the approach to people management has been hierarchical and it continues to be so in many places. It made sense as long as the organization worked in a linear fashion and through functional specialization. Today, the internal and external boundaries of the organization are getting blurred. The expectations of customers, employees and other stakeholders are shifting. This warrants a shift in the organization’s structure, skills and managerial power dynamics too.
Consider managers. They have been through overwhelming change in the wake of digitalization and demands for organizational agility. But the question remains if we have invested adequately in upgrading the managerial infrastructure of the organization.
Managers can’t do it all without the right support. In this piece, you can learn about how companies like Standard Chartered, IBM and Telstra are innovating in this area. I particularly liked the experiment at Telstra, where they split the role of the manager into two i.e. every employee now has dual managers: a Leader of Work and a Leader of People.
What’s super interesting is that the company drastically reduced the number of organizational layers to three and that these two types of managers are on an equal footing - they have the same pay ranges and they participate as equals in the senior leadership team.
We all get exposed to a lot of new information and learning, but a lot of that is not retained by the brain unless the ideas are revisited, reviewed and reworked on.
In the search for quicker and more certain paths to success, we learn different skills, process more information and experiment with ideas. However, many of us are also quick to give up working hard on an area if we cannot clearly and quickly see how it will benefit us. The way to get incredibly good at something is not just a function of being exposed to it, but it depends on consistency. It depends on how many times you work and re-work on it.
To illustrate this point, Arno Rafael Minkkinen delivered a powerful commencement speech at the New England School of Photography, where he talked about The Helsinki Bus Station Theory. I found it fascinating.
Humility is not a limitation. It is earned through confidence. It takes confidence to say you may not be right, but you have worked diligently and explored options.
Humility keeps you wondering what you might be missing.
Humility makes it easy to ask for help from others.
Nothing accelerates learning like confident humility.