UK: Editorial - A work model that is now out of date.

UK: Editorial - A work model that is now out of date. - Arsene Wenger's Premier League-winning Arsenal team is, by all accounts, a happy unit. Certainly, to watch it perform in the run-up to the championship was to see a team on top form - totally at eas

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Arsene Wenger's Premier League-winning Arsenal team is, by all accounts, a happy unit. Certainly, to watch it perform in the run-up to the championship was to see a team on top form - totally at ease with itself, relaxed and in control: happy off the pitch and in command on it.

Contrast this with Arsenal under previous managers. Off the pitch it comprised a collection of self-confessed alcoholics and drug-users. On the pitch it played grindingly dull football. Stressed and out of control?

You bet.

It is by no means fanciful therefore to draw a parallel between the old-style Arsenal and the morale of Britain's management cadre (cover story, p32). Our report is based on a survey of readers about the balance between their home and work lives. More than 5,500 replied and the results make it clear that Britain's managerial class is pretty unhappy about its lot.

(And it's got nothing to do with money, which the survey carefully avoided.)

In short, Britain's managers are stressed, losing control and suffering, among other things, from that awful disease of the '80s, presenteeism.

As the survey shows, this creates pressure at home, which in turn creates pressure at work. In short, this leads eventually to burn-out, dissatisfaction and resentment. Long-term, these are hardly the ingredients for success.

Now it is no part of Management Today's argument that employers should come over all soft and sloppy. Only a utopian or tree-hugger would believe that. Nonetheless, it doesn't take a genius to see that a happy management class - one that believes it is in control - is better than one that isn't: better for itself, better for its employers and better for society.

Twenty years ago (ten even) this might not have mattered so much. The economy was struggling and it was clear that some painful adjustment, not least at managerial level, was necessary. But times change and Britain is now in the vanguard of the post-industrial economy. In such economies the old corporate model of a top-down hierarchy is no longer appropriate.

Today, in an environment where knowledge and service are king, a company's prime assets are its managers and its staff. It is they who make it better, faster, and more adaptable. You don't have to be a New Age philosopher to conclude that things need to change.

This doesn't mean companies must turn corporate structures on their head in order to survive. Wrongly done, this could easily become self-defeating.

But it does mean that they have to find new model ways of working. Technology is but one means to achieve this, not least because it can create the flexibility our respondents say they crave. But perhaps the most important is a change of attitude on the part of employers who must embrace a new vision of working life. This puts managers and all employees up there as a priority issue along with traditional board concerns like profitability, market share and investment. But change has to come from the top. Just ask Arsenal.

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