By Leon Noone 

The study of management theory and practice is relatively new. It commenced around 1900. It included strong emphasis on, as it used to be called, “the human side of enterprise”. That’s no longer enough.

21st Century Demands

The people manager of today requires a very different approach: the manager needs to be collaborative.

I’m not talking about some sort of “friendliness” or “good interpersonal relations”. We’ve tried that. It’s been found wanting. I’m talking about managers and employees collaborating effectively for the good of the business. The collaborative people manager puts the business first.

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Part Of The Business

People management must enhance business results. It must do so clearly, precisely and measurably. It’s no longer enough – if it ever was – to “develop employees”, “provide satisfying and rewarding work”, “enhance employee personal and professional growth”, or to do all those “good for the employee” activities so highly promoted and favoured in the 20th Century.

We must acknowledge the reality that employees are part of the resource we use to make our business successful. If they fail to do so, it doesn’t matter how well they create good interpersonal relationships, your business will never reach its full potential. As Ricardo Semler puts it, “They must go home proud of their work”.

It All Begins With Marketing

Sound people management is an outcome of sound marketing. As my friend Bix Berry says, “Marketing isn’t everything, but everything is marketing”. Your marketing must be precise, specific and crystal clear. If not, your employees will lack a firm and clear foundation for their performance.

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Outstanding marketing depends on two essential elements

• A crystal clear business focus

• A small, very specific target market.

To put it in 20th Century jargon; you need to know exactly “what business you’re in” and your “ideal customer”. Marketing creates the context for the collaborative people manager.

And remember what Peter Drucker said. He was one of the most respected management gurus of the 20th Century. He said: “What business am I in? The question can be answered only by looking at the business from the outside: from the point of view of the customer and the market.”

If you can’t define these issues with absolute clarity, you can’t expect your employees to help your business succeed. Your people management must support your marketing position.

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