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#963: When Clients Aren't Like Those in the Management Books

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Updated: Sunday, January 18, 2009
All the classics of management theory and practice describe the successful manager and the way they lead companies in ways that I barely recognize in some of my clients.What's going on?

By definition, the "classics" of management (or any discipline) are written by the senior, experienced people in the industry. This means that the same factors that make them timeless, may also make them increasingly irrelevant. Not that there are not timeless concepts in them, but that the way these concept are used to manage are becoming blurred because of two factors.

First, technology changes the way and the speed at which we communicate. If you have ever heard a twenty-something say, with mock or real disdain, that email is "so 1990's," when some Boomers are just getting comfortable with it. Setting, changing, and having meetings on the fly is not a typical way organizations instill messages and reinforce influence - according to the classics. Second, the way different generations manage and expect to be managed is up for discussion. Different generations in the workplace at the same time means either more flexibility or managerial incompatibility for more people (other than the ones for whom the selected management style is selected). It is as disconcerting to be at the receiving end of a constantly shifting stream of communication and decision making as it is to be forced to sit in a meeting where discussions seem to take forever and decisions move at a snail's pace.

Tip: Just because your client doesn't operate like the classics of management texts doesn't mean there is not highly effective management going on. As a consultant, it is your job to recognize and adapt to the styles of employees, managers,and customers and not just try to impose what makes sense to your demographic or what everything you always read tells you.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client  consultant role  guidance 

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