Editor's note: Mary Parker Follett was a pioneering force in management and organizational theory. Her work laid a foundation for the way we manage our employees and businesses. Here is a fictional review that we think MPF would give a subordinate based on her teachings in management. Enjoy!
I’m sending a recap of what we discussed earlier today in your annual review. Since I’m the pioneer of a participative leadership style, I wanted to approach this “performance evaluation” as more of a collaborative discussion. I don’t believe in having authority over my employees. I believe true leadership comes in the form of co-active group power. And I know a thing or two about leadership. After all, I am “the woman who invented management” (although I’ve never exactly managed a for-profit organization before).
Related Article: Management Theory of Mary Parker Follett
But enough about me. As you noted earlier, 2014 was a difficult year for you. You’ve been generally unhappy with upper management and you feel like your voice falls on deaf ears. You said, “most of our executives ignore my ideas and requests. In fact, they tend to bark orders at me and are disappointed when last-minute requests aren’t expedited.” And I believe you, John. I seem to remember an instance where a specific IT exec shot down your new marketing concept, and in the same day, the CMO asked for three end-of-the-month reports. If I recall correctly, you stormed out of the office at 11:00 AM that day.
Since I have also earned the title “Mother of conflict resolution”, I immediately spoke with all management executives about your worry. In a collective environment, I asked them how we could achieve a leveled workforce. I explained to them how “power with” employees is inherently more effective than “power over” subordinates.
I also enlightened them on what I like to call “conflict resolution through integration.” I explained that conflict is not a negative thing, and that though they will have different viewpoints than their employees, when conflicts arise, the goal is not domination or comprise. Instead, they (and you) should aim for integration, which will appease the needs of everyone. I provided the entire executive staff with my book, Creative Experience, and requested that they all read it by the end of the week.
Related Article: Popular Management Theories Decoded
Moving forward, your voice will be heard, but equal effort will need to be made on your part as well. A win-win situation is possible, but I suggest you work on understanding the needs of others. The IT team might not have the resources to properly support your new idea, and the CMO will probably understand that you can’t complete three reports in 30 minutes.
A calm explanation (and not barging out of the office) will be the first step towards an integrated conflict resolution. My aim for 2015 is that all employees feel equally powerful in the results of this company and that when conflicts arise, we all work collaboratively to satisfy the needs of all parties involved.
You will see a less strict hierarchical structure this year, and more of a cooperative assemblage of employees. Thank you for your hard work this year, and pick up my book The New State. It’s quite old, but I think you'll enjoy it.
Mary Parker Follett