Archives March 2019

9 Stupid Management Practices (and what to do instead)

Just because every organization uses these management practices, does not make them effective:

  • To achieve management excellence, you need to avoid faulty management practices
  • Managing individual behavior is the answer but it requires an understanding of the basic behavior-based principles that drive good performance

Here are 13 of the most commonly used and misguided management practices and what to do instead.

#1 Employee Of the Month:

What’s wrong?

A program meant to motivate all employees to deliver superior performance can only have one monthly winner. The others are left with performances that go unrecognized — violating every known principle of effective positive reinforcement.

What to do instead!

Understand what you want to achieve as a result of this kind of program, and then establish an initiative based on criteria that recognizes all employees who deliver outstanding performance.

#2 Stretch goals

What’s wrong?

It is proven that people fail to reach stretch goals 90% of the time. The primary reason: stretch goals are typically set too high.

What to do instead!

Set many, mini-goals. To get the kind of improvement an organization needs, in both people and production, managers need to ensure that positive reinforcement is delivered for the many small achievements along the way to reaching the larger, desired goal.

#3 Performance appraisals

What’s wrong?

Any system that doesn’t recognize performance as it’s happening misses the opportunity to get the most and best from employees.

What to do instead!

Set up an environment in which each employee knows how well he or she has done at the end of every working day. Evaluate each performer against what he or she is expected to do, not in relation to others.

#4 Ranking

What’s wrong?

Your competition is outside your organization, not inside. Publicly displaying how employees rank based on objective measures breeds unhealthy competition and inhibits sharing and teamwork.

What to do instead!

Evaluate individuals and units in terms of what they need to accomplish, rather than comparing their performance to others’. When the conditions are right, people will not only achieve at high rates but also assist others in doing the same.

#5 “you did a good job, but…”

What’s wrong?

It has become commonplace to provide positive and constructive feedback. While it seems efficient to do both at once, the positive statement rarely has the intended effect and employees end up focusing only on the negative.

What to do instead!

Be clear to separate the good and the bad. Give the good first, and at a later time deliver the corrective feedback. That way the good will be valued, and the employee will be more responsive to the corrective feedback.

#6 the sandwich

What goes wrong?

The sandwich practice is a cousin of the “you did a good job, but…” And creates a “waiting for the other shoe to drop” environment where attempts at social reinforcement are received with suspicion.

What to do instead!

Be direct. If behavior needs correcting, pinpoint the behavior to be stopped: tell the person the consequences of continuing the Undesirable behavior. Then discuss the behavior you want to see in its place and positively reinforce all instances of the new behavior.

#7 overvaluing smart, talented people

What’s wrong!

Smart, talented people are not in short supply. Thinking that some employees are smarter than others is harmful to all.

What to do instead!

Most of what we call talent is nothing more than unrecognized practice. Given the right environment, most people can become “smart and talented.” Create a culture where managers are rewarded for the number of “smart, talented people” they produce — not hire.

 #8 promoting people no one likes

What’s wrong?

There is a perception in leadership that managers who are well- liked are not effective at producing results. There is a correlation between ineffective managers and other operational costs: high turnover, grievances, absenteeism, training, and recruitment.

What to do instead!

Look for managers and leaders who get results the right way: those who understand behavior from a scientific perspective and can design systems, policies, and procedures that bring out the best in people every day. These folks are always well-liked.

#9 all forms of reorganizing

What’s wrong?

Financial considerations almost always trump human ones in any form of reorganization. None will be successful without the energetic, enthusiastic behavior of all employees. Yet plans for creating such behavior are usually a mere afterthought.

What to do instead!

Make decisions quickly. Incorporate the best practices of both organizations into the work of the new organization. Integrate policies, management practices, and mangers. Make sure that all managers know how to build positive reinforcement into all of the work of the new organization on the first day so that employees will see that it is and can trust that all will be okay.

The High Cost of Poor Leadership

I often use the phrase “poor leadership costs a lot of money and is a terrible waste of human potential.”

I was recently asked by one of my clients to prove it.

So, I put together some statistics on the cost of bad leadership and the upside of excellent leadership.

My Client needed this information so that he could help support making the investment in hiring me to do a leadership training workshop for his organization.

Most people understand that subpar leaders/managers have a negative impact on the organization. However, when you look at how big the cost of poor leadership really is, then you begin to re-examine the importance of leadership development within the company.

In order to review the high cost of poor leadership, I am sharing the information I sent to my client:

Poor leadership practices cost companies millions of dollars each year by negatively impacting employee retention, customer satisfaction, and overall employee productivity.

 Evidence of the High Cost of Poor Leadership

 According to research from the Blanchard Company:

  • Less-than-optimal leadership practices cost the typical organization an amount equal to as much as 7% of their total annual sales.
  • At least 9% and possibly as much as 32% of an organization’s staff turnover can be avoided through better leadership skills.
  • Better leadership can generate a 3-4% improvement in customer satisfaction scores and a corresponding 1.5% increase in revenue growth.
  • Most organizations are operating with a 5-10% productivity drag that better leadership practices could eliminate.

According to Gallup:

  • It’s a sad truth about the workplace: just 30% of employees are actively committed to doing a good job.
  • Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report indicates that 50% of employees merely put their time in, while the remaining 20% act out their discontent in counterproductive ways, negatively influencing their coworkers, missing days on the job, and driving customers away through poor service.
  • Gallup estimates that the 20% group alone costs the U.S. economy around half a trillion dollars each year.
  • The single greatest cause for employee disengagement? Poor leadership.

According to Harvard:

  • Quite simply, the better the leader, the more engaged the staff. Take the results from a recent study on the effectiveness of 2,865 leaders in a large financial services company.

There was a straight-line correlation here between levels of employee engagement and our measure of the overall effectiveness of their supervisors.

The best leaders (those in the 90th percentile) were supervising the happiest, most engaged, and most committed employees — those happier than more than 92% of their colleagues.

Get your free E-Book to learn more and get tips on fixing this drag on your bottom line.  

Want to fight back against the culture of contempt? Here are 3 actions to get you started:

Arthur Brooks is one of my favourite thinkers and writers.

Though we have never met, I would love the opportunity to sit, enjoy a meal and a fine scotch with him, just for the sheer joy of the conversation. 

Brooks believes that America is being torn apart, but the problem isn’t one of incivility, intolerance, or even anger.

He says the problem is contempt.

Defines as the conviction that those who disagree with us are not just wrong, but worthless.

Arthur Brooks explains why contempt is so destructive and offers three rules to follow to overcome contempt with warm-heartedness in our own lives.

Read about being kind as a boss

He offers practical suggestions for how to fight back against the culture of contempt.

Here are three to get you started:

1. Practice the 5 to 1 rule. Offer five positive and encouraging comments for every one criticism, especially on social media. You’ll be amazed at how changing this one aspect of your interactions with others improves public discourse.

2. Stand up for people who aren’t in the room. It’s easier than ever to bash the people who disagree with us, but it only foments contempt. If your friends who agree with you start mocking people who disagree with you, don’t be a jerk, but stand up for those not represented.

3. Ask yourself who in your life you’ve treated with contempt, and make amends. Contempt creates a vicious cycle, but by acknowledging how you have hurt others with mockery or dismissiveness, you’ll be able to repair relationships.

Brook’s details all of this and more in a short, animated video about why contempt is so destructive and what we can do to fight back against it today. You can watch it here:

What about you?

Where can you demonstrate warm-heartedness in our own life?