Proactive Management

Proactive Management

Proactive Work Practices

Over decades, Peter Drucker pioneered almost every substantive management practice and industrial trend, setting the agenda for proactive management. He described pro-active work practices:

“Workers [at every level of an organisation] grow according to the demands they make on themselves. They grow according to what they consider achievement and attainment. If they demand a good deal of themselves, they will grow to giant stature, without any more effort than is expended by non-achievers.

“Make each job demanding and big, to challenge and bring out whatever strengths a person may have. It should have scope, so that relevant strengths can produce significant results. Only if a job is demanding and big to begin with, will it enable a person to rise to the new demands of a changed situation.

“Courage, rather than analysis dictates the truly important rules for identifying priorities: pick the future against the past; focus on opportunity rather than on problem; choose your own direction; aim high, for something that will really make a difference”.

Personal Growth at Work

In 1960, Frederick Herzberg published The Motivation to Work, which found through interviewing managers that income did not serve as a motivator, but could be a serious anti-motivator if it became problematic.  Motivators – the factors that induced worker satisfaction and higher productivity were achievement, the work itself, responsibility, advancement, growth, recognition, and personal development. It was now realized that those things that empower the worker also empowered the company. The cutting-edge understanding was that organisations, jobs, personal growth and productivity were all factors that can work together and when they do, will create optimum outcomes. The traditional management/worker conflict was now known to be suboptimum and dysfunctional.

MIT Professor of Management Douglas McGregor published “The Human Side of Enterprise” in 1961, based on interviews with practising managers, which concluded that:

“Under proper conditions, workers find work to be as natural as play, and will seek greater responsibility, and exercise self-direction and self-control as well as a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in the service of corporation objectives to which they are committed.”

“The motivation, potential for development, responsibility, alertness and industriousness are already present in people, who will recognise and develop these characteristics best by directing their own efforts. The manager’s job is to facilitate this growth in autonomy.”

By 1970, this was widespread understanding in management, and was recognised as a high-level truth in business schools the world over.

Organisation Contributions

Many business organisations were sufficiently concerned with workers well-being that soothing background music would be played through the office to keep everybody calm and ensure nobody was stressed, as this was considered more efficient than frantic workers making mistakes and disrupting smooth work-flows. Some organisations ran crèches, so working mothers could bring their young children to work. Everything was being done to improve the ease and wellbeing of workers in the name of productivity.

Most organisations were under no illusions that the formal organisational chart reflected optimal ways of running organisations, and tacitly acknowledged the value of the ‘informal’ organisational chart, where people would cut across traditional hierarchical structures, to make the connections that would achieve better results.

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