COMMENTARY 974.4: Responsibilities of Management

Modern managers often utter clichés about wanting employees to “think outside the box,” take risks, and be creative. And while I’m sure companies do appreciate break-through innovative ideas that increase profits, productivity, or quality, the fact is that most organizations are inhospitable to those who challenge old ways of doing things, even practices that are inefficient, useless, or counterproductive.

I’ve talked before about the obligation of employees to pursue excellence. But managers have an equal if not larger duty to establish an atmosphere where employees are truly expected to think and act in the best interests of the company and its customers.

According to Josephson Institute surveys, between one-fourth and one-third of all employees say there is a “kill the messenger” tradition where they work, causing them to distort or conceal negative information or tailor data to give managers what they want to hear.

A sure sign that management hasn’t done enough to promote candor is when a manager asks, “Why didn’t someone tell me?” Companies must find ways to more effectively send the message that mission-oriented employees who produce and demand quality are to be prized not penalized.

I’ve come to believe there’s never just one incompetent or unaccountable employee. There are at least two: the employee and the manager who keeps him employed.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 5

  1. There may be a third “entity” that keeps the incompetent or unaccountable employee employed – Federal HR rules. There may be a “fourth” entity, the Union.

    Within the Federal Government system, it takes almost two years of dedicated paper trail, counseling, opportunities of improvement, senior management, and HR support to actually fire an incompetent employee. That is two full years of 90% spent on one employee, when a manager may have 14 other employees and projects that also need attention.

    I have seen one employee with two seperate managers, who tried to remove the employee during the “trial” period fail, because HR and executive level did not support the decision. Both feared that lawsuits would follow as the individual was a minority with a severe hearing impairment. The employee’s work ability and knowledge was FAR from his experience and knowledge documented in his resume.

    So part of the issue is that in large beauracratic organizations, in an effort to be fair to all, the excellent individuals often leave, the crappy ones can not be removed.

  2. So true! It’s hard to work in a company that the President is the Owner, the Sales Manager, the Human Resources Manager, the Operations Manager, the Marketing Manager…one does not have the opportunity to have true support in someone who can be objective, confidential and supportive.

  3. And what could possibly be worse than management? T ry 27 Board of D irectors of a non-profit organization

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