The latest MBA: Management by App

One of things I’ve discovered since I started blogging and tweeting is how much I enjoy reading what other people have to say for themselves. One of the sites I regularly visit is Inc. – it’s guaranteed to provide something of interest and I frequently tweet links to their articles.

For me, the best kind of article is not one that I necessarily agree with, but one that gets me all fired up, sending me off to jot down notes for a potential blog post of my own. And that’s exactly what happened when I read 5 Brilliant People Management Tools. The title itself was enough to make me curious, despite my growing weariness of posts with numbers in the title. The opening sentence was also promising: ‘the formative years of any company have more to do with whom you hire and how you manage them than just about any other factor’.

But then what happened? There followed a list of the latest web tools designed to help you manage ‘essential HR and people management tasks’. If how you manage people is so essential to the success of a new enterprise, somehow reducing it to a series of tasks that can be handled by the odd app or two doesn’t feel like you’ve really grasped how important it actually is.

Now, I’m as much of a sucker for an elegant bit of software as the next person, and given that the author of this article writes about technical trends, his perspective is hardly surprising. The problem I have has nothing to do with the use of web tools to manage certain processes – it’s about reducing people management to a series of processes in the first place.

Process is important (it can for example help ensure compliance to employment legislation) but it is not the be all and end all. As I’ve suggested before in one of my management clichés series, downgrading management to the administration of company process, policy and procedure can stifle a manager’s ability to motivate, inspire and engage people. In the formative stages of any new enterprise, it is a manager’s leadership skills that will have the biggest impact on the performance of their people, not their ability to master the latest people management app.