From Adaptation into Engagement by Luis Suarez

2 thoughts on “From Adaptation into Engagement by Luis Suarez”

  1. Hi Luis
    Thank you for this really interesting post and I was intrigued by your recent trip to Brussels where you engaged with middle managers in the task of helping them “embrace digital technologies” . The approach you took of seeing them as the “social bridges” within organisations, “the enablers rather than blockers” – is fascinating! An almost reverse psychology to the enterprise norm!
    The trouble with managers in those key bridging positions that span the divide between senior management and “the trenches” is that they can also be in a prime position to block – its inescapable!. In my experience they are very effective blockers too because of that connection they have and their sphere of influence. Whether it’s based on fear of the new transparent realm, or simply an inability to change their behaviours to embrace the technologies – so “I don’t want my workforce to either” mentality – I don’t know. Eventually they come round – but in the meantime they may have done real damage to the process of engagement.
    I’ve personally heard a middle manager saying “that (meaning the social platform) doesn’t pay your wages – I do, so get back to work!”
    It takes a very enlightened middle manager to embrace open leadership – because unlike their senior managers above them they feel more threatened and exposed by the notion of those below them coming up from the rear for everyone to see – when they are least expecting it!
    Where I agree with you wholeheartedly is that they are a key group of people to win over as “early adopters” because, as you say, they have the potential to be really important connectors, to play a critical role and lead by example nearer to the ground where the significance of their actions is much more clearly felt.

    Thanks Luis – that was so refreshing to read!

    1. Hi Marie-Louise, many thanks for the wonderful comments and for taking the time to share such a thoughtful response. It’s greatly appreciated, as usual. Don’t take me wrong, in my experience, I have also bumped into plenty of middle managers who have been massive blockers of all efforts related to helping knowledge workers adapt to social technologies. In fact, I have seen, throughout the years, plenty of them telling “their” people to not even pay attention to those social technologies, never mind even reaching above them without their permission. That command and control mentality is pretty much alive and kicking, still.

      But the thing is that when you dig in a bit deeper and you get to dive into a deeper conversation with them they would tell you the main reason why they are “fearful” and apprehensive of social technologies is because they just don’t know how they operate. They lack both the awareness and necessary enablement helping them of the huge potential they have in helping them become better leaders, in becoming those social bridges I mentioned above. Once you help them understand you are there to help enable them see through the value proposition of working in a networked environment, they can become not only the new breed of leaders throughout the hierarchy, but at the same time your biggest advocates and enablers because of their authority to act accordingly.

      That’s why I think it’s important to go against the norm thinking they will always be the blockers and offer them an opportunity to go through that awareness phase of explaining what that adaptation to emerging technologies would look like and take it from there.

      And if they still want to remain the blockers, I think that’s the time for upper, senior leadership / management to come down from their ivory towers where they may have been feed with inaccurate information and help them see where the roadblocks are, so they can act accordingly on them to free up what’s inevitable at this stage: the business transformation.

      Thanks again for the feedback, Marie-Louise! Excellent stuff!

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