The Top Ten Myths Of Getting The Best From People

By | February 10, 2009

There are certain people related practices that are deemed necessary in the modern organisation. Some of these tools are at best implemented poorly; at worst completely misunderstood and create a worse effect than not being used at all.

1. Money based incentives are the most effective motivator. If you motivate people with money, that’s what they focus on – money (see the current economic crises for many dodgy examples).

2. Managers targeting peoples’ activity as much as results. People need to own their personal activity. Needing to be targeted by management implies they have a better idea of what someone should be doing than the person themselves, which results in compliance not commitment around what needs to be achieved.

3. Annual performance appraisals add value. They have a law of diminishing returns, staying alive only through constant revising or worst, simply changing the form. Without this ‘newness’ the process quickly loses peoples’ attention. An embedded continuous feedback model is much more low key and much more effective 360° feedback is just another management tool. In the wrong hands, done in the wrong way it can do a lot of damage. 360° requires very careful setting up and debriefing, and should always be used with the utmost care.

4. All managers can be trained as coaches. Most managers haven’t got a clue, their organisations’ culture often being completely antipathetic to coaching. Coaching starts with culture, feeds into management style and only then skills development.

5. Putting teams under extreme pressure at teambuilding events builds better teams and individual self-confidence. What with the lead up, weeks worrying about going, the stress of the event itself and the lack of connection back into the workplace it rarely achieves a net, lasting gain in anything productive, especially morale.

6. Psychometric tests are a window on peoples’ souls. Some are better than others, but any test that stereotypes or labels people is dangerous. In some organisations it’s common to hear people blame their profile for what they are or aren’t doing.

7. Succession planning when it means no more than identifying people for promotion to more senior roles. This quickly creates a currency of ‘face-fitting’ and ‘ticking boxes’. Bench strength is not built in this way, but through understanding strategic organisational capability requirements linked to identifying and nurturing potential.

8. Using Vision and Values posters, screensavers, mouse mats etc. to promote what the organisation is really about. Unless people can a) see evidence that their managers are acting as

9. Vision & Values role models and b) every employee can relate the language to their own job role and behaviour it will achieve nothing. In fact it’s likely to make things worse, creating even greater cynicism.

10. Sending out group wide email from the CEO that says nothing more than a bland press release might say, written in business speak few can understand. If you are going to communicate to people, have something material to say in language that is simple and direct.

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