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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 18, 2018 1:00 am

Management styles must evolve with times

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Author and executive consultant S. Chris Edmonds can quickly rattle off some things that are out and some things that are in. Or at least they should be.

Sexual harassment and pay inequality – out.

Creating workplace cultures of trust and where employees can feel significant – in.

If those workplace environments don't already exist, the evolution may not be easy, but will be necessary, Edmonds, founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, suggested during a Thursday telephone interview from Colorado.

Edmonds said the #MeToo movement has helped reveal growing intolerance for sexual harassment and pay inequity.

“As a consultant, I want to shout it from the mountaintops and make sure people hear,” he said.

Younger workers are also causing a workplace shift leaders will have to manage. Millennials, for example, are impatient, Edmonds said. They want to improve the world around them and they want flexibility.

Previous research has already shown success is more likely when people experience meaning and significance; when the focus is clearly defined. Trust among co-workers is also a necessity for teams to be effective and can lead to more innovation.

“The old way of managing employees and even managing work is going to evolve,” said Edmonds, who said he is working on a book with Mark Babbitt, co-author of “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.”

Edmonds, author of “The Culture Engine,” and Babbitt plan to examine how the next generation will transition into leadership. 

“We're both convinced we've got to get people out of the command-control mindset,” Edmonds said. “It just is no longer an effective way of managing people's heads, hearts and hands.”

Assuming their book proposal is ready for a publisher by the end of summer, Edmonds expects it could be released during the first quarter of 2019. A title has not been determined.

March Madness lessons

All that attention on brackets this time of the year, well, it's a drain.

Yes, March Madness. Some studies have attempted to quantify the workplace productivity lost when basketball fans who happen to have jobs shift considerable attention to talking about who won and who is likely to win the next time there's a tipoff.

But a professor of management at Purdue University suggests managers might want to relax. All that attention on brackets through early April could also benefit workplace teams.

Ellen Ernst Kossek, who researches work-life issues, said managers should strike a balance by recognizing their employees' interest in the tournament without allowing it to become a significant distraction. 

''Participating in March Madness is similar to celebrating holidays or birthdays in the office,” Kossek said in a news release last week. “Having some levity in the workplace can help people decompress from stress. Companies should think of methods to encourage the intersection of work and life in a way the benefits everyone.”

A 2017 report by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc. estimated 23.7 million American workers fill out brackets and follow the tournament, costing up to $2.1 billion in lost productivity. Businesses can mitigate disturbances by limiting game-watching and sports banter to a conference room so employees uninterested in the tournament can focus, Kossek said.

But even casual observers could glean valuable lessons from the camaraderie, leadership and sportsmanship displayed on the basketball court – skills that should be applied and encouraged in the workplace, she said.

“Not everyone will relish basketball being brought into the office, but an employer who uses the tournament as a way to discuss teamwork lessons or simply have a good time may find there's a big payoff for business,” she said.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/