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Pete Monaghan: The 'Chillax' School of Management?

Thursday 28 August 2014

Fancy enrolling in the Chillax School of Management? Acas NW Area Director Pete Monaghan takes us through the syllabus.  

Pete Monaghan

Pete Monaghan is Area Director for Acas in the North West. He has worked for Acas for 20+ years in a variety of roles. He retains an active interest in the development of Employee Voice in the context of the Engagement debate.

Peter Monaghan, blog author

I read not long ago that the word "Chillax" amongst others, will be added to the official Scrabble players dictionary. Worth 19 points it seems to compare favourably to approximately 5000 new words, although not as high as "Buzzkill" (one that has a depressing or negative effect) which brings 32 points. However "Chillax" plus "Mixtape" (a compilation of songs recorded from various sources ) would total 37 points so I'll type the rest of this with my headphones on listening to a playlist on my iPod!

I seem to have been reading a lot about the benefits of "chillaxing" at work lately so I wondered what a potential Chillax School of Management should have on its curriculum?

Recently I read an article shared on LinkedIn from the New York Times entitled "Why You Hate Work", a title to grab the attention. Apparently only 30% of workers in the USA are engaged in their work (with the worldwide figure dropping to 13% according to a survey in 2013 by Gallup).

It seems that workers who have regular time for creative or strategic thinking, who can focus on one thing at a time, and who have opportunities to do enjoyable things which have meaning or significance will be more fulfilled at work. Workplaces where managers encourage regular breaks from work or are relaxed about people leaving work when their work is done are possibly more productive rather than less. So, lesson number one: encourage your staff to take regular breaks from work and, where possible, provide the opportunity for creativity and flexibility in the way your people manage their work.

This seems to fit in nicely with lesson number two, on flexible working. In June the UK extended the right to apply for flexible working to all employees. The media was full of positive win-win stories about the possible benefits to individuals and businesses alike, and Acas had over 10,000 downloads of its excellent guide in the first week. It will be interesting to see if there is a similar reaction to the introduction of the new regulations on shared parental leave in December.

What would the Chillax School of Management have to say about leadership? The recent CMI report, looking at the future of leadership, concludes that much of our management and leadership is short term or "myopic" and lacks a human touch. Organisations focussed on the long term or wish to develop future proofed leadership will concentrate on:

  • How organisations define their purpose
  • How they lead and develop their people
  • How they invest in the potential of their people

After lunch we should have a lesson on social media. The lesson might be that, thanks to things like LinkedIn and Twitter, the tide is now slowly turning against short term, process-driven management. Communities of like-minded people are generating new and vibrant ways of describing work and how it should be organised. We see this everyday in conversations we have online. The lesson here is that management should resist the temptation to control employee voice and embrace the new ideas which can come from collaboration in Social Media.

My skill-set and experience is in conflict management. As conflict is an accepted part of everyone's experience of work, conflict management should form an important part of the Chillax syllabus. It would focus on understanding behaviour in the workplace and promoting the benefits of effective dialogue and common interest.

If I had to come up with a motto (translated into Latin obviously) for this innovative new school, it would be along the lines of "the root of all good management is trust". My experience tells me that it's often a lack of trust which can blind people to the obvious benefits of the Chillax management style. Acas and I have a lot to say about maintaining and developing Trust but that's for my next blog.

1 Comment

  • Posted by Adrian Wakeling  |  5 September 2014, 8:43AM

    Hi Pete, interesting blog. I also noticed that the word ‘selfie’ has been added to the new scrabble dictionary. Bearing in mind what you say about the importance of trust, I wonder how much the focus on the individual in the workplace, rather than the collective, hampers the development of real trust?

    A lot of your syllabus seems to reflect this preoccupation with the individual – with classes on flexible working, the use of social media and personal autonomy. But trust is, surely, basically about ‘reliability’. I would be interested to know what your school has to say about job security, for example, when it comes to individual wellbeing?

    There is a time and place for chillaxing, but is it a management philosophy that reflects the reality of what goes on in workplaces up and down the country and that best looks after everyone’s interests?

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