Separating out work and personnel management

I believe the future is to separate work management from personnel ("people") management. This isn't my idea. It has been around forever in various forms. We have tried these ideas in the past. I worked in a matrixed organisation in 1985-7.

What's new is that workers aren't owned resources. They're free authorised adult knowledge workers who are invited to accept work according to their team's capabilities.

At least that's the aspiration of the new work culture (call it Beta, Teal, second-tier, spiral dynamics, integral agile, sociocracy, holacracy.... whatever) which is clearly the future social trajectory, the new ways of thinking.

If you are quick (before Oct 26) you can join a 5-week online study group to explore these new ways.

You can make slaves, industrial workers, and clerical workers do work, and you can see their output. They are Human Resources. Knowledge workers aren't. You can't see what work an individual does, only the output of the team. You can't make a knowledge worker do good work, you can only invite them to. In the gig economy, workers may not be employees.

So, back to work and personnel managers. You may have seen this division revisited lately, e.g. the "helix", articulated in these new terms. It makes very good sense and fits exactly with where we are going.

It's not specialisation, it's recognition they're different things. An incident manager is not a training manager just because they are both called manager.

I'd also call out a third role, team coach (grrr "scrummaster").

A work manager manages lumps of work (a product, process, service, programme, or project) focused on value, deliverables and milestones.
A personnel manager manages groups of people (by skillset, division , location...) focused on wellbeing, development, and performance.
A team coach helps teams form and improve, focused on output, quality, and improvement.

This is not a matrix of hierarchies. The only one of these three roles that has anything like people "belonging" to them are the personnel managers who are responsible for them. All three roles - work, personnel, team - are servant managers ("Servant leader" is a misleading term; it talks about how to manage not how to lead). Gardeners not commanders.

Our passion is these new ways of managing. Not how do you immediately adopt these ways (you can't; no we don't have the solution; no there isn't a template or even a method; no expensive consultants won't fix it for you; no that vendor can't sell you a tool that makes change happen ) but how to start that journey.

The most old school, legacy, command and control, unhappy, process-bound organisation can move forward, make a difference, get better. We measure progress looking backwards not forwards: organisations can still be a long way from the ideal but have made significant strides. That's why we talk about advancement not transformation. "Transformation" is for fairy godmothers.

So don't reject these ideas as impossible to do big bang, right now. It's aspirational, a direction to work towards. We think it's the right way.

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