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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Month: January, 2008

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?”

Bad Boss?

25 January, 2008 (01:40) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In her book, A Survival Guide for Managing People from Hell, Gini Graham Scott writes the following, “If you have a pattern of problem employees, consider the source of the problem. It may not be the bad employees—it might be you!” Below is a list of factors that she lists as contributors to being a bad boss.

  • Too aggressive, or too controlling or manipulative
  • Not aggressive enough, or weak and wishy-washy
  • Too organized and structured, or too rigid and inflexible
  • Too unorganized and/or disorganized, or too uncertain and vacillating
  • Too emotional
  • Lacking compassion and empathy
  • Too much of a micromanager
  • Too much of a perfectionist
  • Not providing direction or instruction, or being involved in your own projects and not interested in managing
  • Making impulsive or bad decisions
  • Indecisive
  • Too nosy and invasive
  • Yelling, screaming, and being rude and insulting
  • Making unwanted sexual advances in the office or becoming involved in a sexual relationship with another employee
  • Involved in criminal activities and asking employees to cover up or participate in these activities
  • Lying and failing to keep promises, thus creating and atmosphere of distrust among employees
  • Unfair, playing office favorites or not giving proper recognition or credit

What do you think of this list Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: I’m sorry; did you say this was a list for a good manager or a bad manager?

Wanda B. Goode: Boy there are a lot of ways for a manager to screw up, aren’t there? It is not an easy job.

I certainly agree with the premise that if there is a pattern of poor performance within the team, the manager needs to evaluate her/his own performance. It reminds me of what my Grandma used to say, “Point the finger and there are 3 pointing right back at you.”

Dan McCarthy has similar post containing the “Bad Boss Quiz” from the book, Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Boss? 13 Types and How to Survive Them, by Marilyn Haigt. Check it out and see if you are a Bad Boss.

Ruth’s Myths

23 January, 2008 (01:08) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In her book, The Ugly Truth about Managing People, Ruth King lists 7 management myths:

  1. Your employees can read your mind
  2. You can be friends with your employees
  3. Your employees have the same agenda as you do
  4. Your employees have the same work ethic as you do
  5. You can change people
  6. You can do it alone
  7. Your employees are irreplaceable

Joe and Wanda, thoughts?

Joe Kerr: I’d like to add a couple of my own. How about employees listen? How about employees give a d#mn? Or how about, when employees say they’d love to go to lunch with you they really mean it?

Wanda B. Goode: I think that’s a good list. We just talked about the boss being a friend recently in the Boss vs. Buddy post.

I particularly like the one about employees being irreplaceable. One of the ways managers get into trouble is they build up a belief that an employee can not be replaced. Of course the employee is well aware of this, as they have been responsible for feeding the belief. They begin to take advantage, and managers are reluctant to discipline. This can really damage the credibility of the boss if it isn’t dealt with quickly. It can also hurt the team. The fact is that everyone is replaceable. Yes, even you and me. Our hands are not really tied. Bring in a new person to learn the job and the myth will indeed be busted.

In this post, The Causes of Greatness, Bob Lewis writes, “If an employee is irreplaceable you should immediately fire that employee.” Interesting.

Management Fear

18 January, 2008 (00:46) | Leadership, Management, Problem Performance | By: Administrator

In his book, Dear Boss, William Werther writes the following:

Fear is the major flaw in most bosses

  • Fear of losing a job
  • Fear of losing control and looking foolish
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Fear of losing turf

Joe and Wanda, what are your fears?

Joe Kerr: Fear is for fools my friend, and there is no place in management for either!

Wanda B. Goode: I probably have a touch of all four. I’ll even add a fifth. Fear of confrontation. That’s what keeps us managers from providing timely and honest feedback, from dealing with problem performers. We’re all human (although some might take issue with that statement!), so we all have fears of varying degrees. I don’t think they ever go away completely, but they do lessen when persistently confronted.

Don’t miss the post on Jim Kissane’s blog – KissaneAsylum. Jim writes about management’s fear of developing people.

Management Impediment?

16 January, 2008 (02:56) | Management | By: Administrator

“The real impediment to producing a higher-quality product more efficiently isn’t the workers, … it’s management” – Ken Iverson, Former CEO of Nucor Corp.

Joe’s and Wanda, what are your thoughts?

Joe Kerr: Is there anything else you want to lay on me? I supposed I’m responsible for the genius from accounting that I just got stuck with, huh? How about the bad economy? My fault too? Don’t get me wrong. Obstacles are things put in place to stop others, not Joe Kerr. I deal with my share, believe me, but let’s be reasonable. Even Joe Kerr can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

Wanda B. Goode: I agree with premise of the quote. I think the point is that there will always be obstacles, but good managers, working with the people on their teams, can overcome them and achieve incredible things. Conversely, poor managers can destroy morale, hamper productivity, kill initiatives, and bring a company down in very short order. There’s no doubt that being a good manager is tough. It takes courage. What’s that saying? “Men and rivers get crooked the same way – by following the path of least resistance.” I think that’s how lots of managers get into trouble too. They aren’t willing to do the difficult stuff that they know they should be doing. They hide behind the “I’m too busy” line, and flow with the current.

Check out this post on The Edge Daily that references a study maintaining that in addition to impacting morale and productivity, managers also impact employee physical health.

Delegating Up

11 January, 2008 (00:18) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

We’ve talked about delegating in the past (i.e. delegating down). Today I’d like to get your opinion on delegating up.

Joe Kerr: It’s bad news. Don’t ever ask your boss anything. He’ll think you don’t know what you’re doing, and he’ll eventually throw it right back at you anyway.

Wanda B. Goode: I think it depends. As a manager our job is to help. There’s no doubt about that. The question becomes, “What kind of help do you give?” Yes, you want your team members to grow. A great way to do so is to allow them to work on new assignments and make decisions on their own. In his book How to Become a Great Boss, Jeffrey Fox writes, “Great bosses make people make decisions.” He also talks about the power of the 7 words, “I don’t know, what do you think?” that encourage people to take ownership and come up with their own solutions. Allowing team members to try new things and make mistakes does indeed help them grow.

At other times, the manager should get involved and take on some work and/or offer up a solution. For instance, sometimes the employee might not have the authority to complete a task. In this case, no matter how much you implore the person to get the job done, it just won’t happen. You need to step in. Sheila Fox does a good job elaborating on this example in her post, “The Fine Art of Delegating Up.”

Another example is when an employee is overburdened and is just looking for some relief. In this case if the manager can find others to help or pitch in her/himself that’s a good thing too.

Managers need to look at each situation on a case by case basis and decide the type of help to provide.

Admitting Your Mistakes

8 January, 2008 (00:15) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

I really enjoyed William B. Werther’s book, Dear Boss. This is the fourth or fifth post referencing the wonderful work. Unfortunately the book doesn’t appear to be in print any longer. I strongly suggest picking up a used copy.

In one of the chapters, Werther talks about the importance of managers admitting their mistakes. Managers can be very insecure, so it’s not always easy. According to William, “admitting your mistakes is the shortest path to respect.” Joe and Wanda, what are your thoughts?

Joe Kerr: I’ll tell you exactly what I tell my wife. “I’m not afraid to admit if I make a mistake, and to prove it, as soon as I make my first one, I’ll let you know.”

Wanda B. Goode: I agree with William on both counts. Admitting mistakes is a great way to build trust, and it’s definitely not easy, at least not for some of us! As leaders we sometimes think if we make mistakes, others will question our ability to lead. It’s a shot to our pride. Too often, though, the team pays unnecessarily for our insecurities. The time we spend defending decisions is much better spent solving problems. Werther has some other great lines on the topic too.

“Insisting on being right is overcompensation for fear of being wrong. If you want to appear confident, risk your ego and admit your errors.”

“When people are aware that you admit your mistakes freely, they figure your other decisions must be right!”

Most would probably agree that the ability to admit to mistakes is a very important leadership trait. In fact it’s listed in just about every “Top Ten Leadership Traits” list I’ve come across. I like this Blog post on the Top 10 Things That Make a Good Manager, because it mentions mistakes twice. Number 3 on the list is the ability to create a culture where mistakes are OK. Number 7 is the ability for managers to admit their mistakes. The two actually go hand in hand. If the manager admits mistakes, it sends a message that mistakes are acceptible creating a culture of experimentation and innovation.

Do What You Say You’ll Do!

2 January, 2008 (23:55) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

I love the quote by Henry Ford, “You can’t build your reputation on what you are going to do.” Care to comment Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: So what are you trying to say? Listen, I’m a busy man. Sure I said I’d get my portion of the project done before the end of the year, but you have no idea how much we got slammed in the last few weeks due to the holiday rush. Besides, name me one other person that got their part done!

Wanda B. Goode: Good quote. I also like the one in William Werther’s book, Dear Boss – “One hundred kind refusals are better than one broken promise.” If managers realized the devastating impacts caused by broken promises (to them, their teams, and their organizations) maybe there would be fewer occurrences. I’ll leave you with one more quote. In David Maister’s post on reputation he states, “The fastest and surest way to fail is to break your word.”