After discussing how loony and demotivating most of her company’s practices are, a friend of mine recently mused about the poor quality of management at most of the companies where she’s worked.
“Have you ever worked for a company you thought was well managed?” she asked.
To be honest, the question stumped me. I’ve worked for far too many companies over the years – well over a dozen – and none ever came close to what the management books describe as a well-managed company. Plenty of the companies I worked for made lots of money, of course, but they were hardly environments that encouraged employees to feel terrific about showing up every day. Some companies thrived in spite of themselves!
The attitude at most companies is that employees are paid to do a job through wages and valuable benefits. They shouldn’t blather on and on about motivation; they should appreciate having a job and just get to work (which is not supposed to be fun, anyway).
Up to a point, that line of reasoning makes sense. Employers don’t have a responsibility to make the workplace a diversionary fun zone. On the other hand, if employers would spend a little more time intelligently thinking about employee motivation, both employee and employer would benefit.
Consider my friend again. She is a successful salesperson who is self-motivated. She doesn’t need anyone to tell her to sell; she just wants to be provided with tools, such as sales literature and adequate customer service support, so she can do her job. Her motivation comes from beating the competition and racking up commissions.
So how does her company support her efforts?
“For years, one part of our customer service effort was such a mess that I had to do it myself. Worse, the company president always would call at the time of my annual review and try to persuade me to accept a compensation plan that would pay me less for the same work,” she said. “Finally, after about five or six years of me telling him I wouldn’t accept his plan, he just gave up and left me alone.
” But here’s the crazy part. Every year, when our sales figures come out showing that I beat my quota by a significant amount, he never calls. He’s never acknowledged my performance. All I ever wanted him to say was ‘I noticed you did a great job and I want to thank you.’ That doesn’t cost a cent and it would make me feel appreciated for what I’ve accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying over it, and the fact that my good efforts go unnoticed doesn’t stop me from trying to make every sale I can, but isn’t such thoughtlessness a stupid way to manage someone?”
It sure is. But that kind of managerial density is rampant. For all their MBAs and for all the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on management consulting, you’d think management would get it. All that most people require to do a good job – at least those people you want working for you – is a sense of the company’s goal or purpose (other than turning a profit) and recognition for helping the company achieve its goals.
Is that so tough?
(C) Copyright 2002 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.