1950s Style of Management Making Its Way Back in the Oz

by Rajashri on Sep 13 2009 2:26 PM

Bosses are cutting costs and dropping the collaborative management style of the early 2000s in favour of the 1950s-style, says a new survey.

Social researcher and leadership expert Avril Henry said that employers are doing everything from cutting out biscuits to banning hot food from the office.

They are also telling employees to snack on fruit outside in a bid to cut cleaning costs and cope with strained budgets, and are also micromanaging and bossing their staff around, rather than engaging with them.

"It sends a signal to employees that 'I don't trust you can do the job without being closely supervised', it equates not seeking input from anybody below senior executive level," quoted Henry as saying.

The South African-born public speaker and author of Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders Today says examples of tight, bossy behaviour began emerging at the end of last year amid the deepening financial crisis.

"In the process of cutting costs we often do things that alienate the employees," she said.

"You can cut the biscuits and you can tell people 'we're not providing tea and coffee, bring in your own', but we still pay senior executives and CEOs huge bonuses," she stated.

Henry says the leadership style is putting bosses on a direct collision course with Generation Y.

"Gen Y just go 'I'm not working for a boss like that'," she said of the generation born between 1980 and 1995.

"Gen Y will leave a job without another job to go to even in the current environment.

"They will do a job with less money, not necessarily in the same industry they were in, or equating to what they're qualified to do, to work in environment where they are happy and they feel valued, not only as employees but as human beings," she said.

Many generation X-ers (born 1965 to 1979), now in management roles, see this as "entitlement mentality", but Henry thinks it's a positive backlash to "toxic" workplace conditions.

"I think that (attitude is) what's going to change workplace culture," Henry, who is also a trained accountant, said.

"We have too many workplaces which are toxic, by toxic I mean people aren't valued.

"Every organisation says 'people are our greatest asset' - my immediate response to that is then why do most organisations treat their employees like liabilities?" she stated.

"Bosses who cop a pay cut or ask their staff for thrifty suggestions show they're 'willing to share the pain'," she added.