Of managers and wrong people at workplace.


I have been reading the book “Good to Great” for months now. It is such a wonderful read that I am intentionally resisting from devouring it in one go. I went through a few pages last night, and felt an itch to put the following excerpt on the blog. I typed it down from the book, so there may be unintentional typos.

Practical Discipline #2: When you know you need to make a people change, act.

The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led–yes. But not tightly managed. We’ve all experienced or observed the following scenarios. We have a wrong person on the bus and we know it. Yet we wait, we delay, we try alternatives, we give a third and fourth chance, we hope that the situation will imporve, we invest time in trying to properly manage the person, we build little systems to compensate for his shortcomings, and so forth. But the situation doesn’t improve. When we go home, we find our energy diverted by thinking (or talking to our spouses) about that person. Worse, all the time and energy we spend on that one person siphons energy away from developing and working with all the right people. We continue to stumble along until the person leaves on his own (to our great sense of relief) or we finally act (also to our great sense of relief). Meanwhile, our best people wonder, “What took you so long?”

Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.

Waiting too long before acting is equally unfair to the people who need to get off the bus. For every minute you allow a person to continue holding a seat when you know that person will not make it in the end, you’re stealing a portion of his life, time that he could spend finding a better place where he could flourish. Indeed, if we’re honest with ourselves, the reason we wait too long often has less to do with concern for that person and more to do with our own convenience. He’s doing an okay job and it would be a huge hassle to replace him, so we avoid the issue. Or we find the whole process of dealing with the issue to be stressful and distasteful. So, to save ourselves stress and discomfort, we wait. And wait. Meanwhile, all the best people are still wondering, “When are they going to do something about this? How long is this going to go on?”

Makes me want to resign this very moment. Sigh.

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3 thoughts on “Of managers and wrong people at workplace.

  1. The full name of the book is “Good to Great”. The hyper-link in the blog post points to the page on Amazon that lists that book. Also, the same link can found under the “I am reading” section on the right-most column on my blog. :)

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