Manager’s Task to Support Integrated Autonomy at the Workplace: Results from An Intervention

Tomas Backstrom, Marie Mostrom Aberg, Bengt Koping Olsson, Lena Wilhelmson, Mattias Ateg


A new managerial task arises in today’s working life: to provide conditions for and influence interaction betweenactors and thus to enable the emergence of organizing structure in tune with a changing environment. We call thisthe enabling managerial task. The goal of this paper is to study whether training first line managers in the enablingmanagerial task could lead to changes in the work for the subordinates. This paper presents results fromquestionnaires answered by the subordinates of the managers before and after the training.

The training was organized as a learning network and consisted of eight workshops carried out over a period ofone year (September 2009–June 2010), where the managers met with each other and the researchers once a month.Each workshop consisted of three parts, during three and a half hours. The first hour was devoted to jointreflection on a task that had been undertaken since the last workshop; some results were presented from theemployee pre-assessments, followed by relevant theory and illuminating practices, finally the managers creatednew tasks for themselves to undertake during the following month.

The subordinates’ answers show positive change in all of the seventeen scales used to assess it. The improvementsare significant in scales measuring the relationship between the manager and the employees, as well as in thosemeasuring interaction between employees. It is concluded that the result was a success for all managers that hadthe possibility of using the training in their management work.


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