Individualized Management

Learning OUtcomes

  • Describe the individualized management approach

When asked what type of company college students want to work for when they graduate, a common answer includes working at a place where the student believes they can make a difference and feel valued. Finding meaningful employment seems to be a top priority for many individuals entering the workplace today. In previous decades, people tended to value company longevity over meaning; their primary goal was to work their way up through the ranks. Nowadays, with more visibility into company actions than before, there is a big focus on finding a company that is right for each individual.

decorative imageSo how can the business world piece together the intricate puzzle of the right employee for the right job? Today, not only should applicants market themselves to companies, but companies need to also market themselves towards the types of employees they want working for them. Applicants can show their personal brand through a resume, networking, and interviewing. So how does a company present itself as a desirable place to work?

First, it is important for a company to let employees be themselves. As we have discussed in many previous sections, fostering a diverse work environment is the first step to allowing individuality in the workplace. However, an individualized management approach takes it a step further. For example, allowing employees to choose their own hours or wear what they want to the workplace allows for a truly individualized work experience. While these are not globally accepted ideas, they can be extremely beneficial to fostering a happy and healthy work environment.

Encouraging an environment where opposites can work together and thrive allows all employees to feel valued and work together towards common goals. In this case, opposites does not simply include people from different cultures, but rather people with differing intellectual abilities and expertise. This means creating a workplace where the artistic and the analytical can work together without conflict, to create, market and sell products. Arup, an engineering and design firm responsible for the Sydney Opera House and the Beijing Water Cube, go to great lengths to incorporate people from all specialties into their planning process. They describe it as a holistic approach that incorporates not only engineers but also artists, scientists, politicians, etc. to view a project from every perspective and consider all possibilities and ideas when working on their projects.[1]

PRactice Question

Another groundbreaking strategy Arup uses is their unique employee development model. While managers provide clear expectations to their employees, they do not provide clear guidelines on how to meet those expectations. Instead, each individual employee is able to decide on their own how they want to achieve the task at hand. Furthermore, there is not a set promotional standard or path in place for employees. Instead, each individual is responsible for their own development and success with support from the company.

Waitrose

Waitrose, an extremely successful British food retailer, is also making waves with their individualized management approach. Waitrose is a full cooperative, meaning every employee owns a stake in the company and has a direct share in the company profits each year., which has worked out really well for Waitrose. They have extremely high customer and employee loyalty and it is easy to see why. In addition to being a cooperative, Waitrose takes fostering individuality to the next level. Waitrose will help cover the cost of employees exploring new hobbies. For example, if you want to learn to play a musical instrument, Waitrose will help pay for it.[2]

The idea behind this wildly unusual program is that by fostering hobbies Waitrose is also supporting an inclusive culture where employees feel comfortable being themselves. In turn, employees will be happier, perform better, and provide an extremely positive experience for customers. While these may be extreme examples, it goes to show that utilizing an individualized management approach over a one-size-fits-all approach can be extremely beneficial for a company’s morale and bottomline.

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  1. Goffee, Rob, and Gareth Jones. "Creating the Best Workplace on Earth." Harvard Business Review. May 2013. Accessed April 17, 2019. https://hbr.org/2013/05/creating-the-best-workplace-on-earth.
  2. Ibid.