How Absurd to Manage a Birdie

golf clubs.jpg

Recently we went to the beach for a week's holiday. We hired a house that turned out to be right next to open parkland and my 13 year old son, who has been keen to take up golf, had a golf ball with him but no golf clubs. So we headed to an opp shop and we hit pay dirt - the opp shop had dozens of clubs. My son chose two, and we made our way back through the racks and rows of someone else’s rubbish to the till.

Behind the counter was a woman in her early 60's. I set the clubs down and we both began to look for the price tags, but there weren’t any. The woman looked them over and then apologised, she picked them up, and said she'd just get someone to check. She came back little while later, apologised some more and said someone was trying to find out. Another woman came past the counter and said 'We can't find him, but he might be out the back.'

The woman apologised again and as we stood waiting she explained 'If it was just us here we'd give you a price, I mean we'd just make one up, but because the manager is here we have to ask' and she made it clear how ridiculous she thought this was. And I had to agree with her.

Finally the answer came back 'They're $4 each'.
'Yes, all good' I said 'we'll take them'

Afterwards I thought about the absurdity of this situation. Here was a woman who had managed herself for over 40 adult years, likely she'd chosen a husband, a house and raised children all without a boss, she probably chose and managed her career and a household budget , and she was continuing to mange her life successfully enough to volunteer her time at the opp shop, again a decision she made without help, and yet she couldn't be trusted or empowered to decide the price of a secondhand golf club! Definitely a sub-par arrangement.

This is how it rolls in our hierarchical system of workplace organisation. But there is a movement afoot that is challenging this model.

Why not empower her and the rest of the volunteers? If profit is the concern, give them the figures and targets, let them understand and feel the cause they are serving, and also empower them to sell and serve the people in front of them, let them flourish and see everyone benefit, (except the power of the manager.)

This kind of change is happening all over the world in self managed teams and organisations. The opportunity for leaders, bosses and managers is to transition into advisors and coaches, with no power other than influence. It is difficult, but rewarding on many levels, from productivity to employee satisfaction, engagement and well being.

If you want to learn more or see how you might introduce some elements of a progressive organisation, get in touch, I'd be happy to talk through your situation and what might be your next next steps.