Management Knows Best (or Do We?)

I recently attended the 2nd Annual International Conference on Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM) at the University of Thomas here in Minneapolis, MN.  Here’s a quote from the UST website:
The Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM) is an approach to developing leaders and managing organizational change… The key to SEAM’s effectiveness is calculating hidden costs that normal accounting overlooks, working with the whole organization, and developing a human potential in the organization.”  https://www.stthomas.edu/seam/whatisseam/

There’s a lot good stuff here – too much to write a quick blog about it. The best thing about SEAM for me continues to be that one of the underlying assumptions is that employees hold the key to the success of an organization. They are in the trenches. They know how things can be improved. And they want to be heard.  But too often the structure of the organization leaves out their input. They are made to feel that they are replaceable, like cogs in a wheel.

When I was in HR, I called this attitude “Management Knows Best” after the popular TV show, “Father Knows Best “. I can’t tell you how many times I asked managers if they had asked their employees about a new idea they had.  These managers always responded, “Why should I do that? I’m the manager!” My response was that they didn’t have to, but why wouldn’t they. Most likely, they would get better cooperation and perhaps even some good ideas how to best implement their ideas.

SEAM provides a management approach that encourages managers to listen to their employees and develop their employees’ potential. I like it because managers need to realize that they don’t always “know best” and that we need to rely on our employees to help make our organizations successful. That requires letting go of ego – not an easy task when we’re measured on our individual achievements and not how well we bring out the best in others.

Do you act as though you “know best”? Or do you include others in your decisions?

Leave a Reply