Old-School Management Styles are Dead: Agility is Key to Success and Retention


Whether you like it or not, the idea of the “traditional” workplace has been drastically altered by the effects of the pandemic. Not only has the way we view the workplace transformed completely in the span of under a year, but everything we thought we knew about effective management has been flipped on its head. The demise of old-school management, which was already well on its way to extinction prior to the pandemic, has been expedited by the realities of working from home and being away from managers for extended periods.

The command and control style of leadership is no longer seen as being effective, especially in the midst of a crisis. In order to smoothly navigate through the complications presented by crises and flourish in the new workplace, businesses require leaders who are open to change and able to let go, allowing employees to fly on their own. Gone are the days of old-school management styles, making way for an entirely new approach to leadership more capable of successfully steering businesses through future changes and crises.

Why old school management gave way to agile leadership

For years, many business leaders were seen as being people with a unique command over their workforce, using micromanagement-style tactics to keep everybody on task in order to meet deadlines. This old school style of management was far more concerned with keeping employees on their toes, with leaders quite literally looking over your shoulder at work to ensure you were performing.

Rather than allow for autonomy, old school managers felt that they needed to control several aspects of their business’s day-to-day operations, making it difficult for them to let go and trust in employees to succeed on their own. This style of leadership made it far more difficult to pivot when things weren’t working, or when major changes took place. If this style of leader was at the helm of every business at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d be looking at far more closures due to an inability to evolve and deal with change.

Agile leadership means stepping up to the plate to replace old school management styles once and for all. Agile businesses are able to better succeed in the constantly changing digital age by responding quickly (and gracefully) to change and evolving customer demands, adapting during times of crisis, and enjoying a competitive advantage by better navigating the unpredictable business world.

Agile leaders have embraced the ideas of employees collaborating freely, and use newer styles of accountability that allow employees to thrive without the added pressures found in micromanagement and “standing over your shoulder” tactics, neither of which would work in a distributed work setting, which we’re experiencing today and expect to grow.  New and emerging leaders enable their workforces to use creativity, adaptation, and resiliency to deal with change and uncertainty, allowing them to thrive under just about any condition. The ability of many businesses to adapt and survive through the pandemic is owed in no small part to quick thinking, agile leaders.

The art of letting go

Let’s face it - employees hate feeling like they’re constantly being checked in on. It gives off the sense that management doesn’t trust them to do their job correctly, creating an unnecessarily stressful work environment that only serves to alienate even your most loyal team members. In order to succeed in the modern business world, leaders need to learn to let go and accept that not everything is, or needs to be, under their control. Trusting in your employees to work productively at their own pace and consistently deliver high quality results is becoming more and more important. It affects workplace satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately employee retention.

The pandemic sped up the already burgeoning remote work revolution, with employees suddenly having far more control over their work habits and schedules, and employers forced to embrace modern management styles. Agile leaders have successfully adopted new attitudes towards less rigid schedules, still enforcing set times but being far more flexible with work schedules. Leaders have also shifted away from micromanagement to increased autonomy. Rather than focusing on what employees are doing with every minute of their day, a new emphasis on accountability through metrics and deliverables has been adopted.

Productivity intelligence software now allows management to gain insight into how their employees are spending their time, making it easier to identify new and exciting opportunities, productivity bottlenecks, overworked employees, and at-risk employees - all without alienating employees by reducing their sense of autonomy. It’s okay to let your employees fly on their own. It might be scary at first, but the results are more often than not surprisingly positive.

Modern employees desire a stronger sense of autonomy now more than ever before - studies have shown that the less employees feel micromanaged, the higher their job satisfaction. People who feel that their employers trust them to work autonomously have also reported feeling more productive in the workplace. Autonomy and a more flexible leadership style is quickly becoming an increasingly important factor in the career decisions of many employees - the key to retaining employees long term may soon be to offer them increased autonomy and control over their own work habits.

The pandemic has changed the way we work forever, forcing leaders to ditch old school management styles and adopt agile-centered styles that focus on being able to adapt to major changes and succeed in the face of crisis. The most notable way this has happened during the pandemic is by trusting in the ability of employees to work autonomously without a decrease in productivity. Embracing these new leadership ideals can have a positive effect on employee job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and higher rates of retention.

Failure to do so could mean being unable to adapt effectively when the time comes and reduced job satisfaction due to a lack of autonomy. This will ultimately lead to your business losing high performing employees to competitors who have adopted a more agile approach.

Prodoscore gives you the confidence you need to modernize management 

Realistically, every manager has moments where they want to check in on an employee’s work. It would be a problem if they didn’t want to do that - it is possible to be agile and still have visibility into what your employees are doing without risking employee dissatisfaction. In fact, most employees want to collaborate with managers as often as possible, as this traditional path to promotion has not changed with management styles. The question is how to do it in a non-disruptive way. 

Enter Prodoscore. It is a productivity intelligence tool that provides contextual data to managers so they can understand where their employees’ efforts are being spent, and quickly identify opportunities for improvement and coaching, or reward.  

Capturing data from the business applications used each day creates visibility in a way that’s not intrusive to the end user, and promises transparency.  The need for long phone calls that interrupt work for both the manager and their direct reports, or email chains that demand status of items are long gone. Instead, managers can gauge engagement on various projects directly.

The addition of Prodoscore to your tech stack enables managers with actionable metrics. While those insights are valuable both in-office and remotely, they’re especially useful for managers who are transitioning their management style from traditional to modern. It removes the “I don’t know what my team is doing right now” concerns from the equation entirely. 

Contact us today to find out how Prodoscore can help your management become more agile with contextual data and flexible reporting.