Bad management is a chronic corporate illness.
And it’s an epidemic.
Bad management reproduces quickly in today’s world because in many cases (especially in public companies) performance is measured on a quarter to quarter basis and some of the fastest ways to achieve short-term goals is through fear and intimidation. And managers who use those arcane techniques are the people who get promoted faster, and more often. Not to mention that short-termism also plays well in quarterly reports. A manager that can stand up in front of the newly minted equity-asset class on mahogany-row and show their quarter goals, attainment levels and how they proactively drove turnover for those that “didn’t cut it” will seem much more “managerial” than those that talk about the employee-empowerment work they are doing and how they are teaching their employees to make better decisions and how, in the long-run, the company will be better. (Whew… THAT is a sentence!)
Up high, down low, too slow.
Unfortunately, good management takes more time and has longer lasting results, but it doesn’t spin well for stockholders.
How to Get Well
Good management is about getting better employees – not just getting better results.
Getting better employees requires that managers reinforce the culture, the behaviors and the skills that drive quality company interactions and better company outputs. The evidence is pretty clear that recognizing employee work on an ongoing basis is highly correlated to better company outputs, better company profit, better customer service, better, better, better. It’s just flat-out good practice. Not as macho as short-term cutting and culling – but it is better. Being a good manager means creating more good managers. As a parent, my job isn’t to just raise successful billionaires (although it is now my retirement strategy) it is to raise better human beings. And that takes a different approach. Management should have a similar vision.
Now, if you’ve followed my postings here on the Fist – I’m not one to focus on a silver bullets. I’m a big believer in balanced approaches when it comes to management, but in this case I’m pretty laser-focused.
Managers exists to help employees be better. If managers aren’t doing that then I suggest you …
Yep. Get rid of bad apples.
We (the royal “we” as my dad used to say) need to place much more emphasis on recognition and positive management techniques than we do on hitting goals.
When will, “gives good recognition”, become a performance metric for managers?
When will reinforcing company mission and values be more than 50% of any manager’s performance evaluation?
When will building up employees be valued more than tearing them down in pursuit of profit and plunder?
I dare you.
Track the number and type of recognitions your managers give. Ask your employees if they get recognized enough. Track it. Train your managers (and that also includes the Audi-driving, Jimmy-Choo-wearing SVP/C-Suite-ers) on how to do recognition right. Follow their efforts. Log it. Report on it. Hold their Jimmy Choos to the fire.
And when they don’t do it, bring the pain.
For once, make being a good manager a requirement – not a nice to have. Make being a good manager more important than being a bad manager. Make being a good manager carry more weight on performance reviews than net profit, cost reductions, overtime reduction, etc.
Make being a good manager a corporate value.
You wouldn’t think I’d have to say that, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
Employee engagement levels haven’t moved in 15 years, even with the insane amounts of money people are spending with consultants and systems. My take is that a great system won’t win over a bad manager. No matter how many peer-to-peer notifications you get, a manager who tells you to work 100 hours on a report that makes no sense and that no one will read, can’t make up for the 37 “thanks for being here” cards from Kevin in accounting hanging on your cubicle wall. The only thing that overcomes bad management is good management. Fix’em or fire’em.
Do you need those systems? Yes. Are they the silver bullet? No.
Managers doing the right thing is the silver bullet.