“Management Does Not Lead to Engagement”

That’s what Daniel Pink said a recent blog post. The company twitter recently gave its staff something called ‘hack week’ which allowed them to do anything they wanted at work (instead of the normal work they did) – like google’s 20% idea. The same thing is happening over at FedEx.

Pink continues by saying, “[management] is a technology to get compliance. The only way people engage is through self-reliance.”

I think about this from two perspectives. The first from that of the teacher being the manager. How much autonomy do I let my children have? How much of classroom management is about compliance rather than self-directed learning? The second is from that of the teacher being managed. How much of it is about compliance? How much autonomy is given?

Recently, another teacher had a great idea to start a professional book club, and I used the opportunity to suggest Daniel Pink’s book Drive as a suggestion for a book. I sent out an email noting that it was completely optional, hoping to get about 5 people interested. It turns out that three times that many signed up. Whether they like the book, agree with the thesis, or not, I anticipate that we will get a great discussion out of it because people are reading it because they want to. Making it optional and giving people the autonomy to choose whether or not to partake almost prove’s Pink’s point that people will be more engaged to do something when they have a choice.

If management said everybody had to read this book, there would be eye-rolls galore, and little engagement. The same principle applies to teaching kids. We must give them some autonomy in their learning.



2 thoughts on ““Management Does Not Lead to Engagement”

  1. It would be interesting to take the book test one step further with a simple test. Anonymous survey–how many read Nurture Shock when it was “forced” vs. how many will read Drive when “invited” Maybe we buy a few extra copies to see if there is a social pressure “bounce” that comes from peer influence?

  2. Great post. Interesting idea about the voluntary book club participation (vs. what could’ve happened if mandated by management). Furthering your idea, I think there is a balance to find to make it work – at my last job I started a book club with focus on professional development books. At first the book club had great interest, about 20-25 people signed up each time and roughly the same amount participated. Then things fell off drastically. Why? Not because mgmt got involved (although the office mgr participating helped increase interest – the ‘if she is doing it then I should probably do it too’ mentality). Rather I changed the manner in which people obtained the book. The whole time each person was responsible for paying for their own copy. But after a few goes of that I tired of coordinating the purchase/collection/distribution process. Once I shifted the responsibility of obtaining the book solely on each reader, interest dropped off. To about 4-5 people and then nothing.

    Not sure what I’m getting at – but there seems to be a sweet spot (insert your own Venn diagram here!) of voluntary participation, mgmt mandate/approval and reduction in barrier to participate.

    Best of luck to you, hope it is a hollering success!

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