Imagine living in a house in which the fireplace doubles as a bathroom and the floor as a radiator. It would be such an energy and space saving tactic for our houses, wouldn’t it? However, this is not a new invention. It was one of the many brainwaves of designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, who took pleasure in coming up with minimalist solutions to encourage a simplistic lifestyle. He is also attributed for ushering in the much-talked about “less is more” culture.
Inspired by Rohe and Zen Buddhism, even Apple founder Steve Jobs was a minimalist. He wore the same kind of clothes every day and lived in a clutter-free house. This reflects in Apple products as well – all of which are designed in a way that allows simple, straightforward navigation. What if we were to extend this philosophy of minimalism to management as well?
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What is minimalistic management?
Management, by definition, is to bring together the work of multiple employees to ensure a productive, profitable output. But what if we were to call upon our employees for long meetings throughout the day or breathe down their necks and instruct them on what to do at every step of their work? It is true that nowadays management has gone a bit overboard. This is why a minimalistic style of management is required more than ever.
Minimalism, as opposed to traditional management, focuses on doing away with the activities that do not add any value to the managerial process. It tries to emphasise the most essential functions of management and eliminate all the unnecessary practices. Minimalist managers are more focused on the results that every employee delivers and not on how he or she executes his or her work. The idea is to increase the productivity levels of both managers and employees by increased autonomy. While managers free themselves from the burden of micro-management and constant supervision, employees gain freedom in carrying out tasks the way they feel works best. This fosters the growth of trust, confidence and motivation in the work environment.
So here’s how you can try to bring in a minimalist approach to managing your team:
Make meetings matter
Unproductive meetings are known to take up almost 31 hours off your average work month and cost up to $338 on an average. According to a study conducted by Australian startup Atlassian, 39 percent of interviewed employees admitted that they slept during meetings. The first step to inculcate a minimalistic managerial style is by eliminating unproductive and unnecessary meetings. Don’t call for a meeting to convey something that can be said by email. Do not call your whole team to discuss something that only concerns two or three employees. When you do have meetings, keep them short and end them with actionable decisions.
Do away with helicopter management
Hovering around your employees, checking on their progress every half an hour is only going to distract them and make them less productive. Trust your team and give them the space and opportunity to take their own decisions in their spheres. This will make them feel a greater sense of autonomy and drive them to be more engaged and involved. Engaged and happy employees are proven to more productive. It will also do away with delays and bottlenecks in the work cycle as employees are encouraged to take decisions on their own.
Allow flexible schedules and work-from-home options
As the whole idea of minimalistic management is based on trust, offer more flexibility in work schedules as well. Studies have shown that flexible schedules boost employee productivity. Shift your focus from the number of hours your employees put in or where they work from to the quality of their work and the output they produce. Acknowledging their professionalism and allowing them the flexibility to choose the time and place to work will only increase their confidence and motivate them to work harder.
Focus on leading your team
As a manager, your main job is to lead your team. Leave out all the unnecessary administrative practices and focus your efforts on guiding, motivating and holding your team together. If your employees need your help or guidance, trust them to reach out to you. Don’t push yourself onto them or offer unsolicited advice.
Minimalistic management is not as easy as it sounds as most companies still follow the traditional, hands-on method and might find such a transition demanding at first. It also requires a lot of trust and self-confidence on the part of the managers to let go of their power. The Millennial generation, however, seems to be in favour of such transparent and productive management practices, and these individuals are going all out to encourage their teams to ditch their old school ways. So it wouldn’t be long before minimalistic management becomes the norm and not a freak exception.