Trust in Business: If You Can’t Trust Me, Why Did You Hire Me?

March 5, 2014

This question is often asked by employees, mostly because good management practices are not prevalent in American society, and most are not taught in business schools either.  (That’s the reason I write these blog articles – Tim.)  Managers who were not properly trained or who simply haven’t the right personality, principles, and understandings for the job will not understand the importance of trust, or when it is most effective to give an employee the authority and autonomy needed to carry out necessary work.  Micromanagement – overly close supervision of employees – makes them think they are not trusted to do the work they were hired for, and results in diminished respect for the manager and reduced loyalty to the company.  It also wastes both the manager’s and employee’s time in needless communications often including unnecessarily effort-consuming details.  It’s is intuitively clear that lack of trust has a negative impact on company profits, but how does it happen and what can we do about it? Read the rest of this entry »

Avoiding Hiring Psychopaths and Sociopaths

October 4, 2013

Back in a 2011 Forbes article , a book about psychopathology (“The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry”,  by Jon Ronson) revealed that around 4% of corporate CEO’s are sociopaths.  (Sociopath: One who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior –  In case you were wondering, the term sociopath is often used interchangeably with the term psychopath, but clinically is used to refer to an antisocial person who became that way from being brought up in an antisocial or criminal subculture, while a psychopath has somewhat different personality traits and a condition that is often inherited.   (Psychopath: A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse –  The most severe among psychopaths sometimes become serial killers or other types of criminal, and many wind up in jail but, more importantly, the less severe cases are much harder to spot without extended interaction and observation.  Thinking on this made me wonder if the seemingly predatory behavior of some corporations isn’t indicative of psychopathology at the top.  Needless to say, people with this disorder can be very harmful to their employer and the people around them, and often behave in ways business managers, coworkers, and investors would not appreciate, so how can you avoid hiring them in the first place? Read the rest of this entry »

Hypocrisy by Management Will Undermine an Organization

September 26, 2013

Hypocrisy can be real or apparent. Hypocrisy occurs when a member of management contradicts or ignores management direction without consequence. It can be appearance rather than reality when communications between management and employees are lacking, though this is just as damaging as if it was really occurring. Poor communications leave employees to speculate about what management is thinking, planning, and doing, and why they are being given the directions they’re receiving. If these things (who, what, when, how, and especially why) are not communicated clearly and routinely, workers will start guessing and passing around perceptions and ideas as to what management is planning or doing, and it is easy for the speculations to become pessimistic and negative. The fact that a management team allows an information gap to exist between itself and employees will be the first strike against it, and one or more managers ignoring or flaunting the directions the management team is giving employees will sour the company culture in potentially disastrous ways that can undermine change initiatives as well as ongoing operations. Read the rest of this entry »

Where Does a Manager’s Value Come From?

December 11, 2012

The value produced by managers is difficult to quantify and varies greatly.  For the most part, the value a manager produces depends a lot on their personality, which is a product of their attitudes about people, the work at hand, and their general background and experience. Since the essence of the job is the coordination of the efforts of others, communicating effectively and maintaining the commitment of others who will get the work done are of critical importance.  In corporations it is rare for a manager to produce much product-related value by themselves.  The real value of management is in uniting people who know what to do in coördinated efforts that multiply the value of individual results.  Other ways a manager can contribute are in development of strategy, bringing in outside knowledge including customer and business environment-related information, removing inhibitors to productivity, and generally enabling people to contribute to the satisfaction of customers and the success of the business, however they might be able to do this.  It is important to recognize that approach is an individual thing, and different managers will have different ways of dealing with people and issues that may be equally effective but strikingly different to the observer.  Read the rest of this entry »

Managers: If the Paycheck is Your Employees’ Main Motivator, You’re Not Doing a Very Good Job

August 20, 2012
English: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Resized,...

English: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Resized, renamed, and cropped version of File:Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are your people “keeping their heads down” and working for the next paycheck?  Take a quick peek at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and you’ll see that the paycheck (pursuit of basic necessities) ranks at the bottom, while the things that motivate people to do better get stronger as one moves to the top of the pyramid.  It is when people are motivated by the top two levels of the pyramid that amazing things happen and people perform at very high levels.  It has long been known that the best managers help their people feel like a team, supported fully by management, with everyone focused on common goals and feeling their contribution is important.  Sadly, few people have had the chance to experience that kind of management.  As a manager you can make it happen, though, with noticeable benefits to you, your employees, your company, and your customers. Read the rest of this entry »

What Does Caring have to do with a Successful Business Culture?

June 19, 2012

This is a rewrite of an unpublished article I wrote in 1994, when many businesses had recognized the importance of their internal culture and its impact on their business.  I believe the principles still hold, though the understanding of culture and how to create lasting business success seems to have slipped in the intervening years, at least in the United States.

Where were we going in the TQM era?

The intent of the Total Quality Management (TQM) cultural change effort of the late 20th century was to achieve maximum organizational effectiveness, meaning maximally effective people.  To be highly effective, people must be deeply committed.  This requires that people care about their work, employer, coworkers, etc., for they will only be committed if they care about what they are doing and whom they are doing it for.  Fortunately, people have a natural tendency to care about their work.  The sense of accomplishment available through work gives people reason to feel better about themselves, and makes caring and contributing possible and even pleasurable.  The positive self-image that arises in this kind of environment is a far more powerful motivator than any externally applied influence and results in far higher quality of work.  By comparison, fear is also a powerful motivator, but its effects are detrimental to the quality of work produced in many ways, and they all increase cost without a matching increase in value.  But how are business systems involved? Read the rest of this entry »

Finding the Roots of Organizational Incompetence

June 15, 2011

First let me define my term “Organizational Incompetence”.  Sometimes in business you sit in a meeting and hear people grousing and struggling, and perhaps arguing and talking over each other in their frustration.  The problems they describe are almost always not of their own making, nor do they have the wherewithal to remedy them by themselves.  You begin to perceive that on some particular aspect of business the organization just doesn’t do well, and it keeps posing problems to groups and individuals and holding up productive work.  The appearance is that the organization is incompetent, at least in some particular way or area, and is suffering from needless cost, waste, and widespread frustration and stress.  In essence, the organization or a system within it is dysfunctional.  So how does this occur and what can you do about it? Read the rest of this entry »