Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is traditional Manager a history?

Today, I happened to pull out historical records of the IT program I am managing for last 3 years at my company. While doing some data churning, a unique observation stuck my mind – Till date over 62 people from different units of my company have directly or indirectly reported to me in this program in multiple capacities and at various intervals of time. About 70% of this workforce was out of sight as a result of globalization or virtualization of workspace. I know all of them by name, did work with them for months, have talked to some of them over phone at least 5 times a week and very well know the competencies for few of them but have never got a face to face opportunity to say ‘hello’ to most of them.

This makes me wonder how little line of sight and direct control I have over the work these team members do today. I still remember my early days when organizations were following military developed hierarchical practices where managing people and work was based on command and control. I had my superiors sitting next door to me and I learnt my management style and leadership on job from them. They use to correct every single mistake of mine at work. There was a personal touch and direct oversight. We use to see every single person in office, greet them with smile on the face every morning and use to go for morning and evening tea together as a group.

Gone are the days when I use to stand up in my cube to see my teams sitting all around the floor churning code. The work is still getting completed and several flawless deliveries go to my overseas client round the year. Teams have become way bigger, global and virtual. Most projects and initiatives have become cross units to take advantage of diverse expertise and skills needed to handle multi technology programs. Does this essentially mean, team members are self managing themselves and time has come when we don’t need managers or need fewer managers?


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