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.

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