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No one cares! Crappy Performance Management Rule 2.


In my previous blog I articulated rule 1 of crappy performance management:  Don’t tell anyone about the vision.  In this article we step up a gear and think about the 2nd most important of rules when designing a ‘wet lettuce’ performance management mindset.  


Crappy Performance Management Rule 2:  Never attempt to motivate staff it will merely be seen as patronising. 


Some managers are already great at this rule, but if you still need to develop this ability here are some guidelines:

  1. Remove staff control:  Always try to ensure that you stay in total control.  Never let go of the detail, and expect your staff to report back to you on everything before they act. 
  2. Stop idle interaction:  If your people start to feel a sense of allegiance towards one another, they may rise up and revolt against you.  Keep them as isolated as possible. 
  3. Leave the learning to them:  They took the job, so they should make sure they are capable of doing it.  Avoid a spoon feeding mentality that puts the emphasis on you as the manager having to do all the development.  
  4. Ensure frequent subtle changes:  Never settle into a single groove, make sure that your leadership direction is kept fluid.  Keep staff on their toes by introducing frequent subtle changes to your strategy and goals.  
  5. Let them know who’s boss:  Start each day by setting a tone of superiority.  Leave no one in your team with any doubt that when you walk in, you are the boss.  
  6. Problems will pass:  Do not feel the need to address all underperformance in a team as problems will often pass unnoticed.  The group itself will be effective at dealing with team members that aren’t pulling their weight, so leave it to them.  

OK, so none of us would really subscribe to these guidelines would we?  Scan them again asking whether they could (even in part) be leveled at your own organisations management.  

In an article "The Ten Ironies of Motivation," reward and recognition guru, Bob Nelson, says, "More than anything else, employees want to be valued for a job well done by those they hold in high esteem." He adds that people want to be treated as if they are adult human beings and that the number one reason people leave there jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated.  

I was reading all this only a matter of months ago when to my bemusement we had a member of staff leave us, and their primary reason given for this was that they didn’t feel appreciated!  Now, we are a small company, making people feel appreciated shouldn’t be hard, but it served as a good lesson in realising that often peoples need for appreciation is much higher than we might imagine as the manager.  There is a great little book ‘How Full Is Your Bucket: Positive Strategies for Life and Work’ by Tom Rath in which a study on praise  / criticism confirms the logic that those praised significantly out perform other students.  Over a series of tests a separated control group (given neither praise nor criticism) were the lowest performers in 4th place.  The highest performing students by a large margin were those who were praised, followed by those that were criticised, and then thirdly those that heard the praise and criticism but were ignored.  Rath draws the conclusion that there is a magic praise / criticism ratio of 5:1 

Without doubt financial reward plays a part in motivation.  Fair benefits and pay are the cornerstone of a successful company that recruits and retains committed workers. If you provide a living wage for your employees, you can then work on additional motivation issues. Without the fair living wage however, you risk losing your best people to a better-paying employer.  We may have read or heard about the surveys and studies dating back to the early 1980s that demonstrate people want more from work than money.  While managers predict the most important motivational aspect of work for people would be money, personal time and attention from the supervisor is cited by workers as most rewarding and motivational for them at work.

So let’s have another go at those guidelines by presenting the key elements in the effective motivation as suggested by Nelson:

  1. Control of their work inspires motivation: including such components as the ability to impact decisions; setting clear and measurable goals; clear responsibility for a complete, or at least defined, task; job enrichment; tasks performed in the work itself; recognition for achievement.
  2. To belong to the in-crowd creates motivation: including items such as receiving timely information and communication; understanding management's formulas for decision making; team and meeting participation opportunities; visual documentation and posting of work progress and accomplishments.
  3. The opportunity for growth and development is motivational: and includes education and training; career paths; team participation; succession planning; cross-training; field trips to successful workplaces.
  4. Leadership is key in motivation. People want clear expectations that provide a picture of the outcomes desired with goal setting and feedback and an appropriate structure or framework.
  5. Your Arrival at Work Sets the Employee Motivation Tone for the DayYour arrival and the first moments you spend with staff each day have an immeasurable impact on positive employee motivation and morale. Start the day right. Smile. Walk tall and confidently. Walk around your workplace and greet people. Share the goals and expectations for the day. Let the staff know that today is going to be a great day. It starts with you. You can make their day.
  6. People Need Positive and Not So Positive Consequences.  Employees need a fair, consistently administered progressive disciplinary system for when they fail to perform effectively. The motivation and morale of your best-contributing employees is at stake. Nothing hurts positive motivation and morale more quickly than unaddressed problems, or problems addressed inconsistently.


Why not grab a sheet of paper and a pencil and work through your own application of these six ideas.  What things could you do for your department or organisation this week that will lead to higher performance, by encouraging staff to feel more motivated?


Performance Management Rule 2 should simply read:  Work constantly at making your staff feel appreciated. 


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