Are bad managers the cause of poor productivity, or is it bad technology?
Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Andy Haldane, Chief economist for the Bank of England, seem to think bad managers are the cause of poor productivity. We have other ideas.
In his Autumn Statement, Phillip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in the media that “too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts” elsewhere because “in the real world, it takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five”.
More recently, Andy Haldane, Chief Economist for the Bank of England, hit headline news with his statement that “A lack of management quality is a plausible candidate explanation for the UK’s long tail of [unproductive] companies”. He claims that most companies do not realise they are even performing badly.
What factors affect productivity?
Productivity is largely the result of how well managers carry out their work, and there are various important factors that might influence productivity.
Physical capital — these are the tools one might use to accomplish a task, for example using a computer vs. adding machine or typewriter.
Human capital — is all about learning new skills in which to do a job, which may make someone more effective and efficient.
Technology change — keeping at the forefront of technology can enable businesses to introduce new production techniques and automation of processes, which help everyone in the business become more productive.
Defining what makes a good manager
After researching this, we believe that managers are often made to look ‘bad’ simply because they don’t have the right tools, information or technology to help their teams to be productive.
Managers are often running around wasting time trying to get the information they need. If they had the right information at their fingertips to begin with, chances are they would be more productive since they would be able to make informed decisions faster and more accurately. Consequently, this would have a direct impact on their time, stress levels, business profitability and growth.
Similarly, a good manager with the right technology at his disposal will be able to drive the business to new levels, making his business highly successful and competitive.
Lessons from successful brands
Also in the media recently, Virgin Entrepreneur stated how technology has forced business leaders to change their habits by ensuring that information is available to everyone that needs it in an organisation — rather than a management hierarchy.
Successful business leaders at the forefront of social media reinforce this opinion. Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook states: “A lot of the founding principles of Facebook are that if people have access to more information and are more connected, it will make the world better; people will have more understanding, more empathy.”
Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh’s states that “Information is out there for everyone, not just a few as in the days of old. This makes the next generation of leaders more apt to take on a holacratic approach to leadership.”
The impact of technology on businesses & management
So what can technology do for today’s manager?
The right technology:
- Makes managers and their businesses successful
- Makes teams happy because they can perform optimally
- Makes people and businesses become more productive
- Can lead to sustained profitability and growth
- Helps reduce stress in the workplace
- Gives people back time to focus on what’s important.