Collaborative Mindset

I’m a little too lazy to link back to my previous post based on the “Five Minds of a Manager” by Jonathan Gosling and Henry Mintzberg. Just look for it, yourself, if you feel the desire. As a part of a class, I’m writing a series of reflections based on each of these five “minds.” Each “mind” needs to have two “rich paragraphs” around the topic, preferably written on different days.

I’m nearly done–this will be Mind #4, and then next week will be Mind #5, then that’s it!

Of all of these mind-sets written about in this article, I found the Collaborative Mind-Set to be the most attractive to me. What most people think of managing– from the top down, making people get things done–that just sounds like an unhappy workplace in the making. However, the collaborative manager “help to establish the structures, conditions, and attitudes through which things get done.” That I think sums up what I consider to be proper managing, in one sentence. I had a great interview for a job at the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library on Friday, and it will involve some rudimentary managing and supervisory skills (to oversee student workers), skills which I do need to develop. If I do get the job, I plan to be mostly a Collaborative Manager. U of C students are smart–they have to be to get in the school. I know they know how to do the job–shelving books in this case–I just have to make sure the “structures, conditions, and attitudes through which things get done” are well established and maintained. I’ll find out the good news (or bad news) either late Monday, or sometime on Tuesday this week. Crossing my fingers!

[2nd “rich paragraph” coming later]

Thinking about how managers “help to establish the structures, conditions, and attitudes through which things get done,” I got to thinking about  corporate culture. Or indeed, any kind of company culture–doesn’t have to be corporate. One place I used to work at had  a really bad corporate culture. It was back in high school, at a well known national brand of fast casual dining. The structure there was hard to figure out, the conditions were less than ideal, and the attitudes–people had plenty of attitude. Managers especially had attitude. So, no wonder it was difficult for the managers to keep all the employees in line, and no wonder many employees felt entitled to take some food home with them. The workplace sucked, managers took all they could out of the employees, so they decided they should take stuff from the managers, too. Usually it was some sort of bagel because that was easy to take, or if they could get the line workers on their side, they could actually get a free sandwich, too. (I never did that–I didn’t want to steal from the managers even when they stole time from me.)

At a public library, the structure was a little less than ideal because of the government bureaucracy, but the managers all up and down the chain of command did their best to make it a good structure anyway. The conditions, with budget cuts, were less than ideal, but everyone did their best, because they wanted to help the library out. This was especially true because the library director was forthright about the problems, and did her best to share everything she knew. By being open about it, she helped to shape a communicative attitude in the workplace, where people could easily email concerns and questions, or even vent about the problems without worrying about being reprimanded (within reason.) This made us employees appreciate the difficult position she was in, and made us strive to do the best we can to help the library out.

So, you can see the huge difference it makes as far as employee support goes. If the managers support the employees with the proper structure, condition, and attitudes, the employees will support the manager.

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