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Management Quality and "the good work-place"

by Harje Franzén


The good work-place is a concept that has been brought into new focus, through positive actions like the "Great Place to Work" Institute and certificate, but also through many negative reports of poor working conditions. Burn-out, high turnover of staff and unequal opportunities represent part of the content of many articles and reports.

How can improved Management Quality contribute towards better places to work? The answer may seem self-evident, but let us dig deeper into this question. First we want to remind you that Management Quality is an organizational concept. It describes how the organization should work in order to assure high quality of management and leadership in all parts of the organization, tomorrow as well as today. It is not simply about a desire that all persons who are appointed managers demonstrate good management skills.

It is often easier to describe the good work-place by using the poor work-place as a starting point. When we ask the employees of such a site they answer by mentioning unclear responsibilities, no feedback, unfairness in wages, promotions and dismissals, no opportunity for personal development, poor physical environment, in brief a place characterized by uncertainty, hostility and fear.
Managers and middle managers will tell you about unclear objectives, subject to change without notice or explanation, lack of support from higher management and a demotivated and/or incompetent work force. They also mention colleagues who became "burnt out" when they could not meet their own ambitions and the expectations of their people.
Executive management and the organization's owners, shareholders and stakeholders see unsatisfactory results, due to low productivity and quality of work, high turnover of personnel and hostile unions.

The result is a vicious circle, where lack of motivation and trust lead to lower productivity, which in turn forces cost reductions and (perceived or real) threats of lay-off. Those who can do so, move on to better employers. Work stress and internal competition increases. Temporary signs of progress are soon erased by costs caused by sickness and absenteeism. Trust and motivation decreases further, etc.


A high Management Quality is characterized by the following statements (and several more. These 8 statements are selected out of 31 statements from Inutsikt's self-assessment scheme).

 Our organization has clear, updated and documented mission statements, vision and strategies.

 Our policy describes clearly how we wish to relate to our employees.

 Participation, co-operation and a high degree of independence are corner-stones of our management system.

 Everyone regards himself/herself as owner of their personal objectives and the organization's vision and objectives.

 We encourage open communication and anyone can be approached with a relevant question or suggestion.

 Our policy describes how we work in order to ensure leaders of high quality in all places, at all times.

 We create good opportunities for our managers to be highly motivated in their management task.

 We phase out leaders who are inadequate in their management jobs.


To work methodically in improving Management Quality all links must hold, in the long chain from management policy, through management system, programs and processes, all the way out to the individual employee. This kind of quality assurance of management requires a complete and consistent structure or model, and it must be possible to measure present status and improvements. The building blocks are well known - no new and fancy "consultants concepts" are necessary. What is required, though, is a dedicated top management and great patience and persistence in the implementation phase. A substantial and permanent improvement of Management Quality is a long project, but quite possible to achieve, without exceptional extra cost.

The end result is an executive management that is satisfied with the performance, quality and capacity for change of their organization. Employees experience a work-place characterized by security, fairness, participation, co-operation and opportunities to grow. Managers have the challenging tasks they seek and feel the right balance of independence and support. Customers (patients, tax payers, clients, etc) are those who benefit the most from the organization's high Management Quality.


The symptoms of stress, burn-out and other work-related medical problems that we witness today are, to a considerable degree, a result of people not being able to cope with the continuously increasing higher external and internal pressures in the work-place.
A methodical approach to improving Management Quality results in higher organizational performance, which in turn reduces the stress. It also brings better opportunities for appreciation, communication, personal development and for solving problems before they have grown out of hand. This is the good circle.
Isn't it also a description of "the good work-place"?


About the author:

Harje Franzén

Senior consultant, author, teacher, speaker,
helping organizations to improve management quality, mainly through benchmarking, design and implementation of programs for management policy, management resources and middle managers´ education.

I have worked with organizations of all sizes, from many different cultures, in most industries, and at all managerial levels


Contact me at or learn more at the web-site: