Do You Create a Jekyll and Hyde Issue at Work?


Lucius said, “My new manager is very friendly.  He’s always asking about my kids and he likes to talk golf.  I thought we had a good relationship.”

Lucius continued, “Yesterday, the boss got upset because he thought I had not done enough to help to a younger employee.  I tried to help the new guy but he ignored my advice.”

To Lucius, the manager was unpredictable because he seemed to turn from “nice guy friend” to “jerk boss.”  Author Bruce Tulgan calls this the “Jekyll and Hyde” problem.

The Jekyll and Hyde issue emerges when managers build relationships based on sharing personal matters at work.  Eventually, a manager will need to have an awkward conversation about a work problem.  Employees are surprised because they see the relationship flipping from boss-friend to corrective-parent.

Managers, Tulgan believes, should save most of their personal talk for after work, social events and other encounters.  At work, the boss’s role is to keep people laser-focused on quality, deadlines, customers, safety.  This requires constant work talk.

Effective leaders strive to create trust and rapport with employees by mature discussions about what is going well and what needs improving.  For most, there would not even be a relationship were no for the work.

 

Effective Leaders See Their Employees as More than Just a Bunch of Numbers


In an all-hands meeting an excited manager reported,  “Our on-time delivery was 98.9%; we reduced scrape rate by 4%; margins increased 2%; rework rose by 3%; 93% rated us high on customer service; attendance averaged 97.6%; we had no lost-time accidents and no near misses.”

The manager told his story on four-color, animated PowerPoint slides with graphs and emoji’s.  After the presentation, the crowd buzzed with questions and comments.

In a debriefing, a direct report said, “I think the employees appreciated the show.”  Another added, “Yes, there was a lot of energy in the room.  The employees were engaged.”

However, returning to their work stations, an employee commented, “Down here we are nothing but a bunch of numbers.”  Another said, “All management cares about is making their numbers.”

All organizations, large or small, profit or not-for-profit, must deliver the numbers to be successful.

But it takes a set of humans to operate the maize of systems and processes that produce the numbers.   Effective leaders spend time getting to know and respect employees as unique beings with complex needs and dreams.

When leaders care about their employees as persons, they are less likely to see themselves as “just a bunch of numbers.”

 

Justify Your Decision With One or Two–Not Ten or Twelve–Reasons


“I don’t understand why I didn’t get the assignment,” explained a frustrated employee.  “I’ve been here longer than Able.”

The manager responded, “You have but I also considered recent work history, knowledge of the client, current work load, opportunity costs, and familiarity with the new software program.”

“My work history is fine.  You have not allowed me much opportunity to work with this client.”

“Yes, but this client makes extensive use of a new software package and Able is more familiar with the program.”

“I’ve used the program since it has been required.”

“Most of your clients make minimal use of the program.”

“Why do you think Able has more knowledge of the client?  I’ve known the client company longer than Able.”

“You do have more history but not so much with their new purchasing manager.”

And the point-counter-point arguments continued.  The more reasons the manager gave to support his decision, the more frustrated the employee became.

It is generally more persuasive to offer one or two justifications when explaining a decision.  If an employee does not honor justification number one, your list of eight more reasons will not likely persuade.  Usually, more reasons equal more disagreements.

 

Do Not Feel Like a Failure if Some Employees Fail to Respond to Your Coaching


Jeffery whines constantly.

Eric puts off assignments and rushes to complete them at the last minute.

Shirley cannot seem to avoid gossiping about her coworkers.

Ethel does good work most of the time but is prone to silly mistakes.

Horace’s work space is always a wreck.

What to do with employees who behave like this? Coach them up, of course. But how much coaching does it take to cure these missteps?

Here is a reality check—you are more likely to win the lottery than you are to turn these flawed performers into reliable, go-to team players.

By the time you hire employees, most of their behaviors are hard wired. They have heard your lectures from previous employers, former teachers and their friends. You can also bet their parents gave them their best shot.

Who you hire is who you have. You cannot turn iron into gold and you will not likely perfect these prickly behaviors. You may be a good coach but you are not that good.

If problematic employees sabotage your team’s performance, work with human resources to professionally remove them. Perhaps they can find a better fit in another organization.  But if the irritating behaviors hover around the nuisance category, get over it. As the comedian Ron White said, “You just can’t fix stupid.”

 

Don’t Reward Uncooperative Employees While Punishing Cooperative Employees


During the discussion of a serious design wreck, it quickly became apparent that only Juan and Hershel had the specialized talent to restore the project’s schedule.

When Hershel accurately perceived the project’s need for extra work, he spoke up. “I have family obligations the next couple of months and will not be able to work weekends.”

Although the manager was aware that Juan had been putting in a lot of hours on another project he said, “Juan, I hate to ask but do you think you can bail us out?”

Juan nodded and said, “I think I can be of help.”

The much-relieved manager accepted Juan’s offer. Although the manager may not have been aware, Juan also had upcoming personal obligations; but he was not the type to let personal issues impact his work.

Perhaps unintentionally, the manager’s decision had the effect of rewarding uncooperative behavior (Hershel) while punishing cooperative behavior (Juan).

Some would say that Juan should not have agreed if he thought the manager’s request was unfair. But I say it is the leader’s responsibility to avoid stacking work on cooperative team players while allowing self-serving, whiners to skate by with less effort.

 

My Top Ten Idiotic, Motivation-Killing Statements


businessman rating

Here are my top ten idiotic, motivation-killing statements.

If I gave you a “five,” you wouldn’t have anything to strive for.

You haven’t been here long enough to get a “five.”

I don’t give “five’s.”

HR requires that I write a justification if I give you a “five.”

Our policy discourages high ratings.

If I gave you a high merit increase, you would think you had it made.

Never let them know you are satisfied with their work.

Others might be envious if I gave you a big increase.

Yes, you did a good job, but this was a team success.

I know your attendance is perfect but we can always do better.

Effective leaders delight in awarding their best producers with high appraisals and merit increases.  The result is:  high producers strive even harder.

While lesser performers may publicly whine and whimper about their modest increases, they will learn that to get more they have to produce more.

Withholding rewards from high performers based on fear of losing commitment or upsetting slackers makes about as much sense as the late Yogi Berra saying, “No one goes there nowadays; it’s too crowded.”

 

Continuous Coaching on Employees’ Weaknesses Frustrates Everyone


Max, a new supervisor, said to Jamison, a well-trained and experienced employee, “Your work is good but the metrics show that it takes you too long to complete your tasks.”

“I like to be very careful,” replied Jamison.  “I don’t release my work until I know it is right.”

“I appreciate that but I don’t think you need to spend time verifying information that has already been double-checked and approved.”

“I just like to see for myself.  I don’t always trust what I get.”

“Sometimes I see you completely redoing a task that is already in compliance with customer specs.”

“I want to make sure that customers get my best work.”

Becoming irritated, Max said, “You are making it hard for others to complete their tasks on schedule.”

“They should concentrate on their work and not worry about me,” replied Jamison.

The more leaders focus on fixing employees’ weaknesses, the more frustrated everyone becomes.

According to Gallup Surveys, continuous coaching on employees’ weaknesses creates frustration, anger, de-motivation and resentment.   After employees have had sufficient training, if their overall work is acceptable, it may be better to realize that not all will be superstars.