First – 6 weeks away from blogging was great . I am very grateful to all of you who encouraged me to start blogging again .
I stopped blogging rather abruptly – after reading my posts this year, I couldn’t think of a reason why anyone would want to read most of what I post. But seeing the responses from many of you – I guess I over estimated the deficiencies if my writing .
And so I am back. I am still going to stay away from twitter for now . So please leave comments here rather than on twitter like usual .
Over the last month, one topic kept on coming up in conversations . That is about why employees and managers feel “us and them” more often than not .
I think the root cause is goal setting and performance appraisals . It is a stupid idea in general to set goals formally once a year and then check back to see if you made it or not . The CXOs of the company cannot usually foresee how the market will work in next 3 months – so how will an individual and their manager predict what has to be done for 12 months ?
When the results of appraisals are given out – many managers feel an obligation to also give a speech on the topic . This is the beginning of the trouble . Generic messages are counter productive and usually insult the intelligence of the employee . More than the actual rating and rewards – it is the insult to intelligence that irritates most employees.
Performance appraisals set the pace of disillusionment – and other managerial communications sustain it.
Say an employee has a bright idea and brings it to his manager and asks for funding . Four scenarios generally are possible
1. Manager sits on it and in a passive way make sure nothings comes off the idea.
2. Manager says he will fund it – but doesn’t do it, and eventually gives a generic reply like “This is not a priority for now”.
3. Manager dismisses the idea completely upfront with no debate
4. Manager asks proving questions to see if the idea is worth pursuing and takes it up the chain. Manager keeps employee in the loop and explains the rationale for the final decision – even if the answer is “no go “. Better managers will also coach the employee on what needs to change for the next time
The first 3 makes the employee feel that her sole purpose in life is to do what others decide for her . There is no value for her original ideas or intelligence .
Option 4 in most cases ends well – and makes the employee feel he is appreciated , and he will try harder to find a better idea next time .
Sadly, option 4 happens in only the absolute minority of cases . If this managerial behavior is properly addressed – I bet the bitterness felt by employees will be eliminated in most cases .
I will make one last point – on rewards . Why are people promoted and compensated for performance in HR cycles ? If my daughter earns straight As in class and I tell her “good job kiddo – end of your school year, I will buy you two bars of chocolate. But make sure you keep straight A’s till then “, what are the odds of this being effective parenting ?
An employee that does something for the company that benefits the company should be rewarded closely after that – at least partially . If a development team creates a product that brings in profit today , what is the rational explanation of paying them their reward after the company enjoys 6 months of that profit ?
. The typical answer from managers is “that is out policy”. Employee probably tells in her mind “stupidity is not an admirable policy” 🙂
That was a long winded way of saying whatever you do as a manager – pls don’t insult the intelligence of people at the receiving end