Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hard Lessons Learned by Managers

Whether you’re the CEO or a supervisor, you will learn many lessons throughout your career.  One resounding lesson learned by some managers is when to let go.  Let go of what?  You may ask.  In previous articles, I talked about three levels of performers in a corporation – high performers, average performers and under performers.  Then there is another group that can be one person or more, the
apathetic.  This person or group can alter the course of the entire company, especially if he or she is in a key position.  Many managers are afraid to let go of apathetic employees.  

The apathetic person may come to work everyday.  They even complete tasks throughout the day, week, month and year.  However, they typically don’t care.  In fact, they sometimes tell you they will complete a task with the intention of never doing it.  In other cases, they will tell you they are not going to do aspects of their job.  At the same time, they may take on responsibilities that make them appear indispensable, which puts management in a tough position. 

By making themselves appear indispensable, they are in a position to play politics.  They cleverly move their way up the corporate ladder.  They smile and present themselves as the nice guy who goes the extra mile for the company.  Except, the entire organization can suffer because of this one person.  If there are several apathetic people, the impact is greater.

While this apathetic politician, maneuvers his way through the enterprise, others in the company notice the benefits of being apathetic.  They begin to see the company has unspoken policies: if you appear indispensable, you can get out of doing your job.  As a result, they emulate that behavior.

In time, the corporate culture of the entire organization begins to emulate the apathetic person.  In desperation, management hires new enthusiastic people with the hope they will infuse the culture with their upbeat mentality.  Over time, the new people observe the unspoken policies and are consumed by the existing culture of apathy.

Even though many people emulate the apathetic person, they know he should be fired.  The manager, on the other hand, believes he can’t do without that person, especially if it’s a long time employee or executive.  And the culture of the enterprise spirals down further into apathy. 

There are companies that no longer exist because of this apathy trap. Employees become increasingly resigned.  Customer service, product development and innovation suffer.  Therefore, the sales force no longer believes the company can deliver.  Sales drop.  And the best employees left a long time ago. 

If the manager fires the apathetic person when this first starts, the company can avert this destructive path.  To management’s surprise, employees will be relieved and wonder what took the manager so long. 

While it appears to be a tough decision for any manager to fire an apathetic, it is in the best interest of the entire company to spot apathetic people and take corrective measures.  If that doesn’t work, let them go.    

What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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