“Someone asked me recently, ‘What is the most common mistake that all managers make?’ I didn’t have to think about the answer for very long,” said Jurgen Appelo, author of Managing for Happiness
and leader of business network Happy Melly.
In a recent article for Forbes
, Appelo said that managers typically hire for specific roles assigning people to one team, one department or one business unit. This assumes each individual has a well-defined function producing value solely for the corporate element they reside in.
“The single mistake that all managers make is to treat the business as a top-down designed construction that is made from human resources. In other words, [they] treat the organisation like a machine,” he said.
Instead, a better approach is to treat the business like a living system which functions primarily on interactions between individuals.
“Organisations are not constructions made from people. Businesses produce constructions made by people,” he said.
Therefore, it is impossible to fully define individual roles, Appelo said, suggesting that managers instead look at responsibilities based on the interactions people have with their colleagues.
“This means that people interact within the contexts of multiple teams, departments and business units and therefore they create (or destroy) value for more than one unit.”
Organisational development thus should involve a combination of people and interactions – meaning evaluations of these interactions are at least as important as staff assessments.
“When we see organisations as living systems, comprised of individuals and their interactions, a lot of traditional management techniques and practices suddenly stop making sense,” he said.
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