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Limited by attitude part 1

Removing staff

The main purpose of a manager is to achieve results through the efforts of his or her staff.
There are often limited options open to managers who can not get the best out of their staff.
Having tried a variety of standard methods to improve behaviour, that mostly include negative reinforcement (see Consequence – part 1), many managers are left with only one option.
Replace the member of staff in question.

This is usually justified by labelling the individual in some fashion, for example, lazy, accident prone or incompetent.
None of these labels are defined.
Bear in mind that the poor performance in question may only be 5 to 20% of their total performance.
If other options can be tried the individual’s behaviour may be improved.

As the manager’s role is to maximise the performance of his or her staff to achieve results any failure to improve staff performance is not good. Before anyone sacks a member of staff he or she should seriously ask, “Is there anything else I can do?”

This attitude to poor performance can be most easily seen when a new manager takes over a new department where results are below expectations.
It is quite usual for a new manager to remove the old underachievers and then replace them.
This seems to be an expectation of new managers and is often not readily questioned.

These actions will actually reduce the motivation of others in the short and long term.

Are you liked?

Naturally, as a good manager interested in the motivation of your employees you will have integrity.
You will also have many other notable qualities such as trustworthiness and honesty.
It is common for many managers to believe that people should do what is asked of them just because the manager is a great person.

It is true that you wont get very far if people don’t like you.
A manager with a bad attitude can lower motivation quickly.

Part of being liked is being respected for what you do and say.
Many leaders (see The Complete Leadership package) are good because they lead by example.
You can not do this with attention to communication skills.

We know that being liked is about communicating well with people.
You will need to enhance your listening skills (see The Complete Time Management package) and talk to people about themselves by finding out their likes and dislikes.
People will recognise time spent in getting to know them better.

Like many of these systems you will have to watch out for the pitfall of turning into an amateur psychologist because this is not how to get people to perform better. However, it is useful if people like you.

When you go around and talk to people it can often be hard work.
This will leave you with a tendency to communicate less well with person number 5 as opposed to person number 1.
You may well end up speaking to 10 or 20 people and your performance level can not be allowed to drop.

The reason for this is quite simple. You may well have 20 conversations but each individual will have only one conversation with you. They will remember and think about all of your comments.

It is extremely easy to become frustrated and lose your temper with certain individuals.
You must remain detached. After all it is unlikely that you would lose your temper with your own manager as you know it would not be in your own interests. In the same way, losing your temper with another is destructive in both the short and long term.
Loss of motivation is fast to achieve and slow to regain.

Even if you are in a bad mood keep your feelings in check.

You could employ a very simple technique to find out how people are feeling.
This could be used when people start work.
It serves two purposes you will get a quick idea of how they feel and they will be aware of their feelings.
The system could represent happy, mediocre and poor.

  • People could take a red, yellow or green card for local display; each representing their feelings at that time
  • They could take a card with a smiley face on. Either smiling, neutral or grim looking
  • People could draw a picture on a white board against their name reflecting their feelings

What do you manage?

If you ask managers what is it that is under their control or what is it they are responsible for they will likely say:

  • Equipment and machinery etc
  • Buildings and facilities
  • Finance
  • Materials
  • Finished products
  • People

When thinking in these terms few managers would consider people as a resource (together with their motivation) whereas the others are often considered.
What happens if anything goes wrong in these areas?

Excluding people, a manager will assess the situation and instigate some sort of repair or other action that didn’t usually include replacement of the item. Minor and major issues with buildings rarely require the rebuild of the facility.
Equipment and machinery is kept running and not replaced unless technology has moved on or safety is an issue.

Even for items like raw materials you wouldn’t immediately go out and seek fresh material or another supplier without suitable investigation. However, in the case of people we often jump the gun and assume poor performance is linked to poor attitude (not defined). Motivation of people becomes a secondary thought.
If this is the case we make the rash assumption that things can’t change and remove the individual.
We are then back to labelling people.