Ted Scott had almost 30 years of management experience in the electricity industry before joining Human Factor Australia, managing thermal and hydro power station operations (achieving a turnaround in the performance of lesser-performing stations)as well as ‘greenfield ‘sites.
He has degrees in electrical engineering and economics and a reputation for a values-based management approach and for innovation. For the past two years he has conducted master classes for the Australian Institute of Management in Queensland and the Northern Territory with Dr Harker.
AIM: How would you rate the employee-management skills of Australian executives?
Scott: I suspect that few of them understand human nature, which means that their styles might not be as effective as they could be for long-term organisational welfare. My thesis is that the long-term welfare of organisations is dependent on treating their people humanely. I have not seen much work done in Australia to verify that, but I have seen at least three overseas studies suggesting that organisations that perform well in the long term are value-driven and probably concentrate on a lot more than the bottom line.
AIM: Are you suggesting that we fall short of that in Australia?
Scott: I am suggesting that we do everywhere. It is not peculiar to Australia. The model of management that we have is probably no longer appropriate, because people are seeking to have a lot more of their needs met in the workplace. This might sound strange to some, but I am also talking about their spiritual needs.
AIM: How do you reconcile a workplace in which employees are self-actualised and spiritually fulfilled with the demands of running a profit-driven enterprise?
Scott: It seems to work quite well. The biggest untapped potential in organisations lies in the minds and wills of the people. Once we get those aligned to the purpose of the enter-prise, we do very well. The organisations in which people are engaged in advancing the purpose of the enterprise are always going to be ahead of organisations in which people are just driven, are reluctant participants in the process and make their contributions only because of fear.
AIM: We have heard a lot about values-based management. What is that?
Scott: People’s values are largely a manifestation of deep, underlying assumptions about humanity, and often they are not even conscious of them and do not have them in the fore-front of their minds. It is important for organisations to look at values clarification. If you ask people what it is they value, they will always say “trust”, “honesty”, “respect”. Nobody can disagree with that. What I do is then ask: “If those values were in place in your workplace, what would the manifestations be?” I would try to operationalise it so that they have some idea of what we talking about.
AIM: What is the future of work?
Scott: It’s inevitable that work will continue to evolve, but it is difficult to know exactly what form it will take. The shape of work is very much determined by technology. We need to make sure that people are autonomous, that they can actually manage themselves and have imbued in them life-long learning principles. I envisage a future in which people will have many more careers in a lifetime than they do now. They will work for many more employers, so they will be a lot more mobile. Therefore, handling those continual changes of employment will require people to be very robust and to have the characteristics of mobility.
AIM: That could be frightening for some.
Scott: It is frightening, but the people who can handle that scenario will be very much in demand. They will be choosing their work in terms of the workplace that suits them and their own aspirations and styles. Those who can manage that change will be well placed to work wherever they want to.