Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Category: Problem Performance

Punishment: A Teaching Tool?

20 February, 2014 (23:20) | Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

In her book, The Up Side of Down, author Megan McArdle asserts that punishment is an important part of teaching in cases where people break the rules. In order for it to be successful, though, it must satisfy 4 principles:

  1. Should be immediate and brief (not crippling)
  2. Deviance must be consistently detected and dealt with
  3. No breaks. Punishment for every infraction – “Occasional mercy is not merciful”
  4. Punishment is teaching, not revenge. It should be focused on the positive, on the future.

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: So it WAS okay for me to dock a day’s pay from my admin when she brought me warm coffee, right?

Wanda B. Goode: I can see how punishment might be appropriate to address things like procedure violations and other bad behavior. However, as the author points out, mistakes, such as technical errors and judgment errors do not warrant punishment. Rather, they require training, mentoring, additional practice, etc. Punishing can backfire. Certainly if the 4 principles above are not followed, I can see how it could do more harm than good.

Here are a couple of related posts

Effective Punishment in the Workplace
Six Tips for Confronting bad Workplace Behaviors
Return of Traditional Punishment for Bad Behavior
Effects of Punishment on Employee Behavior

Dealing with the Unwilling Worker

26 July, 2013 (21:16) | Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

Just had a banner experience at my local Walmart yesterday. I took my car in to the tire and lube shop for a quick tire rotation and oil change. I won’t go into the details, but I will say this, “I’ve never seen people work so hard to avoid work.” Two hours later, I left the store with the job half complete.

Ever had a similar experience on the job Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Last Friday one of my guys argued with me for 30 minutes about how he didn’t have time to do his status report. Does that count? After our chat I had him do his status report and mine too!

Wanda B. Goode: This type of childish, often passive-aggressive behavior is not uncommon in the workplace. There are typically reasons behind it. Some of them may even be rational. If you don’t know the reasons, ask. Either swiftly address them if appropriate, or remove the person. Do not allow the cancerous behavior to continue. It will poison the workplace.

Here are a couple of related posts

Can You Rehabilitate a Passive Aggressive Employee?
Dealing with Passive Aggressive Colleagues

Tardy Employees

17 January, 2012 (21:33) | Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

While paging through the business section of my local newspaper, the Daily Local News, I came across an article by Gretchen Metz on excuses people use for being late for work. Apparently Career Builders does a survey each year. Turns out, tardiness is up this year as 16% of survey respondents reported that they arrive late to work once or more each week. That’s up a percentage point from last year. Career Builders also lists some of the best excuses. My favorite is the employee that said he wasn’t late because he had no intention of showing up to work before 9:00AM, despite the fact that he had an 8:00 AM start time.

How do you handle tardiness Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Hey, they better be there when I’m there. That’s all there is to it. If they aren’t, they won’t be around for long.

Wanda B. Goode: It’s been a long time since I’ve worked in an environment where time was tracked closely, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never had issues. Typically, I’ve just set primary times of coverage where everyone must be present, allowing people to flex around that. For instance, you might say that everyone must be present between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. That way, there is some flexibility. The morning people can get in early and leave early. The others can get in later and leave later. They all just have to be there between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Most people don’t abuse that privilege. Of course, if they do, it needs to be dealt with quickly. Otherwise it can easily result in morale problems.

Here are a couple of related posts…

One-in-Five Workers Are Late to Work at Least Once a Week, Survey Finds
Why are Your Employees Late for Work?

It Takes Two

16 May, 2011 (21:07) | Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

Just read Sean O’Neill’s book, Bare Knuckle Management and thought I’d share a quote…

It takes two to tango… before you go about “correcting” your employees’ faults and avoiding certain people altogether, take a minute to reflect on anything you’re doing (or not doing) or saying (or not saying) that is making their behavior worse.

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: It may take two to tango, but it only takes one to do the Macarena.

Wanda B. Goode: Managers need to be very comfortable in their own skin to admit that they are contributing to problems. Needless to say, it is very beneficial if they are able to do so, as they frequently either cause or contribute significantly to them.

Here’s a related post…

Fire the Slugs and Other Great No-Nonsense Ways to Retain Your Best People

When Should Performance Issues be Addressed?

17 March, 2011 (23:27) | Leadership, Management, Podcast - Management Tips, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

In this ten minute Management Tips Podcast, Dr. Todd Dewett explains when managers should address performance issues and provides a framework for intervening. Listen in to find out more

icon for podpress  Dr. Dewett's Management Tip [9:31m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Show Up a Lot

29 April, 2009 (23:34) | Leadership, Management, Podcast - Management Tips, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

Listen to Wally Bock share his Management Tip, Show Up a Lot, in this 10 minute Podcast…

icon for podpress  Wally Bock's Management Tip [9:39m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

When Simple Correcting Fails

10 February, 2009 (00:03) | Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

In his book, Getting Up to Speed, George Lumsden writes, the following tidbits about disciplining employees.

  • When an employee fails to behave, in many cases you have failed as a manager.
  • Penalties, or withholding motivators, must be done in some cases, but not before preceding with a solid effort at counseling.
  • When doling out a penalty, be sure to explain what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • Give first time offenders lighter penalties than repeaters, but be careful not to deal too lightly with any offense because that is an implicit invitation to repeat it.
  • Distinguish between employee actions that are mistakes vs. outright challenges to your authority. Caution mistakes and treat them with added coaching and training. Meet challenges differently: Go nose to nose with the challenger, because that’s part of your job as a manager, like it or not.
  • Keep an eye open for problems, counsel and correct. When that fails, face up to discipline. If that doesn’t work, ready the employee for a long walk on the outside.
  • If you don’t like to discipline, manage very well.

Joe Kerr: I like the part about going nose to nose. I like to go nose to startled, cowering, and sniveling nose when I put the fear of God in my victim by offering up a good old fashioned dose of wrath, chastisement, and humiliation — a very effective motivational prescription.

Wanda B. Goode: Few people in a management position will tell you the job is easy. This is one of the more difficult things. In a perfect world everyone would behave nicely and cooperation would be a given. That’s not the way it works though. I agree that if you are communicating well, providing timely and honest feedback, and counseling appropriately, the disciplining is nowhere near as frequent. However, there comes a time when it’s got to be done. Yes it’s a hassle. Yes it’s uncomfortable, but it never goes away and it never gets any better on its own.

I recommend doing some roll playing with your manager prior to doling out discipline, and depending on the severity, you HR department should be involved as well.

Here’s a post describing Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Reprimand

Addressing Performance Issues

18 November, 2008 (23:20) | Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

There are so many managers out there that have never coached anyone through a performance issue. Is it because they are such wonderful managers and play to people’s strengths? No, it’s not. There are a lot of employees out there that simply aren’t doing a very good job. Unfortunately they don’t know it. No one tells them. Why? Too busy? That’s the convenient excuse. The main reason is that it’s uncomfortable to deliver the message, so managers just avoid it.

Joe and Wanda, how can we improve upon this situation?

Joe Kerr: I’m having a déjà vu moment here. I know we’ve addressed this topic before. Are we running out of things to talk about already? I’ll repeat what I believe I said before. I just can’t be bothered with all the HR crap. I just shuttle the duds over to my tree hugging colleague. He takes ‘em all in. Makes my job a lot easier.

Wanda B. Goode: One thing that I think would help me with the discomfort a bit would be to go through the process with my manager. If he showed me the right way to do it – led the discussion in meetings, showed the right way to document, shepherded me through creation and execution of a restoration plan, etc. it would really help.

It would be time consuming for my boss, but it would be well worth it to me. I know it’s my responsibility to address performance issues. I’d just like to have a little guidance. Do you think Joe would help me with that?

Below are a couple of other interesting links on the topic.

Contrarian Thinking

Ram’s Creations

We Can Do Better

4 July, 2008 (11:46) | Customer Service, Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

I’m going to take a break from the string of Edward Deming posts in order to tell you about an experience I had recently.

I was riding home from my day job when I saw a sign on a neighbor’s lawn that read, “Want a painter that shows up? Call xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

That’s it. That’s all it said. It didn’t even have a company name. At first I thought, “How does that person expect to find work advertising with a tag line like that?” After further consideration, though, I came to the conclusion that it’s probably very effective.

We’ve all had our share of contractor and customer service horror stories. These experiences have trained us to set the bar for performance so low that simply showing up for the job makes service people stand-out. It separates them from the pack.

Unfortunately, this is not isolated to contractors and customer service personnel. It’s all over, including corporate America and more specifically – management. Although this may come across as somewhat depressing, there is a silver lining. The good news is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to distinguish oneself.

So, let’s make a commitment to start doing the little things better. Not sure what those little things are? Pick up a copy of Lead Well and Prosper to find out. Let’s break away from the pack. We can do better. We should do better. Let’s do better!

But how about the others that surround us? How do we get them to “show up and then some?” How about the Pygmalion Effect? Will that work? If we expect more will we get more? Any suggestions?

Joe Kerr: I’m not sure those little people have to do with any of this. I say you’re just screwed if you don’t have any leverage. With my people, for instance, I hold their livelihoods in the palm of my hand. There’s power in that. With contractors, you’ve got nothing. I suppose I could get my team members to paint my house, but I’ve heard about people getting in trouble for that sort of thing.

Wanda B. Goode: I’m a believer in the Pygmalion Effect. I do think we project our expectations, and that results frequently match them. I have seen people turn around and rise to the occasion when higher expectations have been set by a trusting manager who believes in them. Not sure how it would work with contractors, though. I would think some time would need to be spent building a relationship first. That’s not always an option when choosing a contractor. I’d like to hear others’ opinions though.

Check out the following for more on the Pygmalion effect. Post 1, Post 2

Check this one out for more on Pygmies!!!

Why Don’t They Do What They are Supposed to Do?

30 January, 2008 (00:08) | Communication, Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

In his book, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do, and What to Do About It, Ferdinand F. Fournies lists two main causes:

  • The manager did something wrong to or for the employees, or
  • The manager failed to do something right to or for the employees

He provides a list of “hidden reasons” for employee nonperformance to include:

  • They don’t know they should do it
  • They don’t know how to do it
  • They don’t know what they are supposed to do
  • They think your way will not work
  • They think their way is better
  • They think something else is more important
  • There is no positive consequence to them for doing it
  • They think they are doing it
  • They are rewarded for not doing it
  • They are punished for doing what they are supposed to do
  • They anticipate a negative consequence for doing it
  • There is no negative consequence to them for poor performance
  • Obstacles beyond their control
  • Their personal limits prevent them from performing
  • Personal problems
  • No one could do it

Any of these sound familiar to you, Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: I think Ferd is overlooking the key here, and that’s motivation. If you motivate your employees, they get the job done, and nothing motivates like a healthy dose of fear. “Don’t bother me with excuses. I’m not your father. I’m your boss. Do your job, or I’ll find someone else to do it.”

Wanda B. Goode: I’ve seen just about all of these and have been guilty of causing many of them myself. It’s not surprising that several deal with miscommunication and mixed messages.

Punishing employees for doing what they are supposed to is an interesting one. It’s not obvious, but it happens. For instance, we sometimes cut people off or treat them harshly when they ask questions or come to us for assistance. Ferdinand uses other great examples too. How often do we reward the person who knocks out the difficult work with a boatload of more difficult work, or saddle the person that volunteers a great idea with the privilege of executing it all by themselves? Some reward.

For another perspective, check out the following post on Top Reasons for Poor Performance at Work.

Has anyone else experienced some of the above “hidden reasons?”