Performance through ethical motivation

Have you ever noticed how managers manage to defeat their own purpose by getting in the way of their own team members and demoralising them in subtle yet devastating ways? They do this by paying too much attention to the things that do not matter. Those little things, or as I like to name them: Details.

There is a well know rule that states: “20% of your actions produce 80% of your results.” This is also known as Pareto’s Law.

Americans call those actions, high leverage. If only we could recognise those actions and work on them so that we can be truly awesome at those actions within the 20%, we would start to achieve even more results. Also, if this is true, why do managers concentrate on those 80% of actions that produce relatively little?

Most people with responsibility (managers) like to maintain lots of control by checking people’s work for mistakes. The trouble with this approach is that it can be time consuming, leads to poor relationships and addresses the symptoms rather than curing the problems within a department.

Time is a manager’s most scarce resource. Most busy managers tell me that they do not have enough time to do all the things that are required of them, yet they spend vast quantities of this precious resource de-motivating their team by checking their work and correcting it.

Poor relationships are the fall-out from this approach to raising standards at work. This approach requires the manager to be the adult and the team member to be the pupil. The “I know better than you” approach may be factually correct, however the position you place yourself in, requires your team member to have the greatest respect for you at all times. Is this a realistic goal?

Working at the symptoms, rather than curing problems means that these problems will re-surface time and time again. Not a very smart way of working through your departmental issues.

So, if you are a busy manager, checking people’s work to ensure that quality remains to the standards required, there is a very good chance that your results will not vary too much from year to year. Staff retention rates will remain the same, employees will choose to stay longer if the economic environment worsens, but will leave when that changes.

The trouble with this is that we are being asked to achieve more and more every year with either the same or fewer resources. This will lead to the busy manager, who does not use their time wisely enough, to plateau-out their results. They will find it increasingly harder and harder to hit targets, as the time to check work becomes ever more scarce.Working on the business should be your priority, not in the business.

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