Time management and leadership go hand in hand and their relationship with each other goes way back. We have always thought of productivity and time-saving activities as the integral work of a born leader, like Henry Ford, for example.
The scientific management guru is known for engineering a mass production assembly line in his Ford factories, which churned out cars faster than anyone else knew how to. He achieved this by assigning each worker a specific role. Performing this repetitively, they would become specialised in that task as the car travelled quickly down the factory line.
However, we don’t all work in this way — in a customer-facing sector, for example, it wouldn’t go down very well if we all acted like robots. What’s more, Ford’s version of time management wasn’t particularly beneficial for employee morale or internal progression. For that reason, some businesses have steered away from this approach.
Have you ever wondered what the greatest management gurus would do differently if they found themselves in their prime now? Technology plays a huge part in the modern workplace — it’s integrated into work processes and in some cases, takes over entire job roles, as we have recently seen with the rise of self-checkout aisles in supermarkets.
In light of this, our relationship with technology needs to be one that’s assistive, rather than destructive, and that works in favour of both the employer and the employee. This post discusses how different types of technologies suit specific management styles and sectors.
Automation for the Autocratic Leader
If you do fancy yourself as a Henry Ford character, automation and robotics is the way to go. This takes the scientific management theory a step further by actually utilising machines — instead of treating human beings like one.
The modern replica of Henry Ford’s assembly line can be found in the newest Amazon warehouses. More of these fulfilment centres, aided by robots, are being built all over the UK — a story that found itself over the news when the new warehouses were opened.
The online giant utilises over 100,000 robots, but Amazon makes it clear that they aren’t fit for human replacement. Instead, the company’s some 500,000 human workers interact with the robots, which pick orders from the vast warehouse. The individual orders are still packed by warehouse employees, yet the process is sped up by automation, making Amazon the world’s most valuable retailer.
Virtual Calls for the Humanistic Leader
For a slightly softer approach, you can take inspiration from the humanistic guru, Elton Mayo, who conducted the famous Hawthorne experiments. Mayo deducted that productivity levels soared when people could collaborate with each other on projects.
He was a true believer in human interaction and, unlike Ford, didn’t believe monotonous job roles and robotics (if they had been developed at the time) were the answer. Instead, he often referred to humans as the “social men”, who thrived off interaction and job rotation.
This management style benefits from technology, such as virtual business phone plans. These solutions embrace the contemporary remote work concept and maintain the notion that voice interaction is an important process. The digital bank Monzo is a great example of this, with its strapline, “the bank of the future” and its mission statement, “Monzo is a bank for everyone, that works with you, for you.”
Monzo’s quirky approach to the highly regulated banking sector (which is known for generally poor customer satisfaction) has earned the company the title of fastest crowdfunder. In 2016, it crashed Crowdcube’s servers by raising £1 million in just 96 seconds. Its mobile application promotes voice interaction with buttons including “if you want to speak to a human being”, and it’s resulting in heaps of customer loyalty.
Content Analyser for the Competitive Leader
Perhaps somewhere in between Ford and Mayo is the competitive leader, who cares less about the process and more about what productivity boils down to — winning.
In this field, Michael Porter is known as the guru of the competitive era — he studied economics and attended Harvard Business School, which led him to constantly evaluate his competitors and back differentiation to get the upper hand. For this type of leader, analytical tools like Buzzsumo are an essential part of their arsenal to understand what is trending and how they can do it better.
Virgin’s differentiation strategy allows Richard Branson to stay ahead of the curve. Virgin is the brand behind a music store, an airline, gym chain and credit card (among many other things). In fact, Branson has admitted his golden rule when making business decisions is this: If the company he was considering launching wasn’t fundamentally different from its competition, he wouldn’t continue forward with the idea. Virgin is now recognised for its great customer service and tongue-in-cheek advertising above the actual products that it sells, which makes for sky-high brand loyalty.
Rory Whelan is a communications expert with over twenty years experience in consultancy, television, media and telecoms. Since 2012 he has held the role of marketing manager for eReceptionist, leading the product to become the favourite call management company for UK SMEs.