OneManagers in the Middle

This book is about empowerment, which is giving people as much control as possible over how their work gets done. One of the forces drawing us toward empowerment for people in the middle and lower levels of organizations is the fact that most large companies, because of technology, automation, and cost pressure, have for decades been reducing the number of employees as fast as they can, often eliminating whole layers of management in their attempt to be more efficient. Plus there has been a relentless growth of outsourcing and virtual jobs. People work at home, long distance, and in multiple time zones. We would think this would work to further disperse the centralization of power. That it would push responsibility downward and result in a direct assault on the bureaucratic methods and the patriarchal mind-set that characterize life in most organizations.

Reducing bureaucracy and building accountability requires more than simply reducing jobs and becoming more lean and agile. It requires a mind-set shift on the part of managers, workers, and people at any level. The attitude shift is toward feeling empowered to exercise choice in service of the business and themselves. At the deepest level, the enemy of high-performing systems is the feeling of helplessness that so many of us in organizations seem to experience. We are caught between the need for managers and workers to stand firm for their beliefs and yet realize there are always people who have power ...

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