“Pick Your Own Manager”

In: BlogDate: Jan 17, 2013By: Henry Stewart

This morning I was delighted to get an email (subject line “….eek!”) from a colleague at one of the UK’s major facilities management companies:

“Yesterday we put out a communication to our helpdesk employees that they can… Pick their own manager!”

The Idea is Spreading

I’ve written before on the idea of letting people choose their manager, as they are going to be best placed to know who could really motivate and challenge them. I’m delighted to see the idea spreading. Several organisations we’ve worked with at Happy People now let their staff choose their manager. And all report that its created a better and more effective workplace.

After a recent talk I gave at London Business School, in which I called on the audience to let people pick their manager, somebody came up to me and explained that at Accenture (one of the world’s largest consultancy firms), where she worked, you could choose. Apparently they do have a manager on each project they work on but long-term support comes from a mentor that they decide on.

If it works for Bradley….

Reading Bradley Wiggin’s autobiography, My Time, one thing that struck me was that a key turning point was when he decided to drop his coach and choose another one. If he hadn’t been able to do that, he might never have won the Tour de France.

Do you want your people to get the coaching and support – and challenge – that they need to become a champion? Of course you do. I always come back to a shocking survey CMI finding, that 49% of the UK workforce would take a pay cut to have a different manager and that 47% left their last job because they were badly managed.

There is a very simple solution, one that more companies are trying and finding that it works:

  • Let your people choose their manager

Try it in your organisation, and let me know the result.

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd. Following a fairly disastrous job early on in his career, Henry was determined to discover what enabled a productive and happy workplace. In 1987 Henry set up what was originally called Happy Computers. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he built a company with a reputation for some of the best customer service in the country and one of the UK’s best places to work, winning multiple awards for its culture and philosophy. His book, the Happy Manifesto, was published by in 2013.

Outside of work he is a father of three, Chair of Governors at his local comprehensive in Hackney and a keen cyclist.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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