Command and control works, up to a point

Although it’s not very trendy among academics and HR professionals, the command and control approach to management still has its advocates, as Glyn Lumley noted in his post yesterday.

Command and control feels safe. You tell people what to do and watch them while they do it. Feeling in control reduces the manager’s anxiety. Empowering people and letting them organise themselves seems a lot riskier. Whether it is appropriate for modern, complex organisations is debatable.

Management theorists have questioned the effectiveness of command and control over the last few decades but it seems that some managers had their doubts long before that. Here is a quote from a management textbook that pre-dates F.W. Taylor

Nowadays I make it a practice to call them into consultation on any new work and to discover by this means what sort of ability is possessed by each of them. Furthermore, I observe that they are more willing to set about a piece of work on which they think that their opinions have been asked and their advice followed.  

It’s from Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella who wrote his treatise on estate management in the first century AD.

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5 Responses to Command and control works, up to a point

  1. Pingback: Command and control works, up to a point - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  2. Jen Turi says:

    I think command and control only works with uninspired employees who don’t want to think too much or are very insecure. Yes, there is security in being told exactly what to do and doing it but how can a company compete with uninspired employees? Uninspired = No Innovation and in order to be successful today, you must have innovation. I wrote about the type of employees you need to find here if you are interested.

  3. Pingback: The freedom to do as you’re told « West : People Matters

  4. Pingback: Control Vs. Uncontrolled « West : People Matters

  5. Pingback: Give up control « West : People Matters

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