New Book Says It's Time To Redefine Management
Senior Editor For Blogs
How's this for an unique theory - People and specifically their job performance can't be managed.
Over the course of time, we have established a system in which millions of people are hired and trained to do one thing: manage people.
And no one seems to be happy with this set-up. Managers are feeling stressed and employees are feeling neglected.
A recent global survey conducted by Towers Watson found only 46 percent of employees believe their managers have enough time to handle the people-related aspects of their jobs.
The position of manager has become "a ragged conglomeration of pieces and parts, designed to do too many things and engineered to do none of them well. People both higher and lower in the organizational hierarchy question its value, resent the authority it confers, and criticize the competence of the people who do it."
In the new book, Manager Redefined: The Competitive Advantage in the Middle of Your Organization Tom Davenport says it's time for a change that managing employees isn’t like following a recipe card (the mundane process of goal setting, reviews, etc.). Instead the author says managers should take a different – perhaps counterintuitive - approach, one that he further explains in his guest post that's on the following page.
GUEST BLOG: "PEOPLE CAN'T BE MANAGED"
Guest Author Blog: People Can’t be Managed, but Environments Can by: Tom Davenport author of, Manager Redefined: The Competitive Advantage in the Middle of Your Organization
Among the many processes that managers implement, few produce as much frustration as performance management. Companies talk about managing performance as if it involved a simple recipe: start with a pinch of goal setting, add a splash of performance ratings, throw in a dash of rewards, don’t forget just a soupçon of training, and voilà, a high-performing person.
But human performance can’t be controlled by mechanically mixing a few ingredients and hoping for the best. The factors that contribute to employee performance are too numerous and too intermingled, a bubbling bouillabaisse of motives, abilities, behavior drivers and environmental factors. Managers can’t manage performance – only employees can do that. What managers can do is create the circumstances in which employees grow their skills and knowledge, gain motivating self-confidence and improve their contribution to enterprise success. They do so not by managing employee performance, but instead by managing the performance environment.
The problems with performance management usually begin with goal setting.
All organizations expect managers to work with employees to set goals for output and performance.
After all, they reason, how will a company motivate employees without a set of goals and an array of rewards to spur them on to high performance?
The problem is that performance-specific goals don’t do a very good job of spurring people.
A recent study by researchers from Drexel University, Ohio State and the University of Western Ontario found that goals emphasizing learning and gaining mastery often produce higher performance – not just improved skills, but also greater achievement – than goals focusing on explicit direct output.
But how many managers don’t – or can’t – take the time to work with people to develop the individual learning strategies that could be reflect in goals. It’s simpler just to say, “Produce 10 percent more than you did last year.”
Managers sometimes compound the problems of goal setting by using stretch goals.
Stretch goals seem like a handy shortcut, a way to get people to jump several performance levels at once.