Managers have enormous impact on people performance both positive and negative. However, there are too many examples of the negative impact that bad managers have on people and performance for us to ignore it the way we do. And we do ignore it. Too many organizations react first to poor performance by blaming the employee and seeking solutions to “fix” them. Companies should spend most of that energy fixing management.
Think I’m crazy? Have you known managers like this?
There are managers who believe they need to assert their power through dictatorial leadership; managers who think if you want anything done right you have to do it yourself; managers who avoid delivering feedback until it is too late; managers who surprise direct reports at year end with poor performance ratings to the complete surprise of his/her people; managers who seem to go out of their way to prevent people from taking on new or additional assignments; managers who follow the rules so strictly that it kills team creativity.
I could go on.
Driving Away High Performers
High performing (too many) employees complain in the break room about bad managers, ask to be transferred away from micro-managing managers, and quit good jobs because of poor manager behavior. People spend most of their lives working in organizations and have a chance to grow in environments in which learning is encouraged and growth is fostered. I continue to be shocked at how badly organizations can fail at preparing managers to develop and manage their people for overall high performance. Poor performance is more often the result of bad management than it is a result of poor employee performance, though that is not the conventional wisdom.
If you are a manager, and your first reaction to bad performance is to come up with ways to get John (your direct report) to “get his act together,” you might want to look in the mirror. Then read Are You a Clueless Boss, and think about how you can improve management.
Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at companies such as E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.