The Top Ten Myths Of Getting The Best From People

There are certain people related practices that are deemed necessary in the modern organisation. Some of these tools are at best implemented poorly; at worst completely misunderstood and create a worse effect than not being used at all.
1. Money based incentives are the most effective motivator. If you motivate people with money, that’s what they focus on – money (see the current economic crises for many dodgy examples).

2. Managers targeting peoples’ activity as much as results. People need to own their personal activity. Needing to be targeted by management implies they have a better idea of what someone should be doing than the person themselves, which results in compliance not commitment around what needs to be achieved.

3. Annual performance appraisals add value. They have a law of diminishing returns, staying alive only through constant revising or worst, simply changing the form. Without this ‘newness’ the process quickly loses peoples’ attention. An embedded continuous feedback model is much more low key and much more effective 360° feedback is just another management tool. In the wrong hands, done in the wrong way it can do a lot of damage. 360° requires very careful setting up and debriefing, and should always be used with the utmost care.

4. All managers can be trained as coaches. Most managers haven’t got a clue, their organisations’ culture often being completely antipathetic to coaching. Coaching starts with culture, feeds into management style and only then skills development.

5. Putting teams under extreme pressure at teambuilding events builds better teams and individual self-confidence. What with the lead up, weeks worrying about going, the stress of the event itself and the lack of connection back into the workplace it rarely achieves a net, lasting gain in anything productive, especially morale.

6. Psychometric tests are a window on peoples’ souls. Some are better than others, but any test that stereotypes or labels people is dangerous. In some organisations it’s common to hear people blame their profile for what they are or aren’t doing.
7. Succession planning when it means no more than identifying people for promotion to more senior roles. This quickly creates a currency of ‘face-fitting’ and ‘ticking boxes’. Bench strength is not built in this way, but through understanding strategic organisational capability requirements linked to identifying and nurturing potential.

8. Using Vision and Values posters, screensavers, mouse mats etc. to promote what the organisation is really about. Unless people can a) see evidence that their managers are acting as

9. Vision & Values role models and b) every employee can relate the language to their own job role and behaviour it will achieve nothing. In fact it’s likely to make things worse, creating even greater cynicism.

10. Sending out group wide email from the CEO that says nothing more than a bland press release might say, written in business speak few can understand. If you are going to communicate to people, have something material to say in language that is simple and direct.


Getting To Work Through The Snow – A Proxy For Revealing Our Approach To Work?

Some people made it through the snow last week, some people didn’t. Some worked from home and some threw snowballs. What does this tell us about peoples’ attitude to work?
It would be really interesting to see the different approaches to getting to work from people who live in the same street with the same travel resources and family issues, who work in the same place and those who do similar kind of work. What would the differentiating criteria be? (Vice versa applies)
Would older people do better than younger people?
Would managers do better than the front-line?
Would women do better than men?

Or are the criteria more difficult to quantify? The personal attributes of motivation, ambition, responsibility, a greater sense of duty etc being more significant?

With some certainty we can predict, short of the street actually being cut off, there would be some people who got in and some who didn’t. Like the person who lived at bottom of the hill who parked their car at the top the night before who made it to work, the person who walked the 5 miles to work, and the person who simply set out a lot earlier, and was prepared to get home a lot later. (All actual examples).

A factor seems to be how convincingly we can claim to work from home. With a phone, internet connection and networked computer working from home would seem a snap. Much of the research into productivity suggests people who work from home are more productive than in the office. If that’s the case, rather than lost productivity we should have achieved a performance gain last week. However, a lot of peoples’ working from home seems to be dealing with inbox stuff, a few planned phone calls and generally ‘being available’. Much rarer is somebody working from home in the snow doing some significant, original work.

Probably the most important factor will have a lot to do with our conscience, how we handle guilt. The snowball throwers will have found a rationalisation that gives them licence to enjoy themselves, some lucky people were even given a free pass by their employer (we’re shut go out and have fun), but most will have come to a more ‘personal’ accommodation.
When the next snow comes it will open a revealing window onto our work/life landscape, one that might be more insightful than we realise.