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Workers of the world unite!

Among the various calls for bettering the plight of workers on today’s International Workers Day should be a demand for better leadership and management. Inc’s “The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses” provides an outline starting point for any manifesto on this subject. In particular, point #3 rings with the spirit of embracing failure…

  • “3. Rescue your worst employee. Almost every business has at least one employee who has fallen out of grace: Publicly failed to complete a task, lost his cool in a meeting, or just can’t seem to keep up. Over time that employee comes to be seen by his peers—and by you—as a weak link. While that employee may desperately want to “rehabilitate” himself, it’s almost impossible. The weight of team disapproval is too heavy for one person to move. But it’s not too heavy for you. Before you remove your weak link from the chain, put your full effort into trying to rescue that person instead. Say, ‘John, I know you’ve been struggling but I also know you’re trying. Let’s find ways together that can get you where you need to be.’ Express confidence. Be reassuring. Most of all, tell him you’ll be there every step of the way. Don’t relax your standards. Just step up the mentoring and coaching you provide. If that seems like too much work for too little potential outcome, think of it this way. Your remarkable employees don’t need a lot of your time; they’re remarkable because they already have these qualities. If you’re lucky, you can get a few percentage points of extra performance from them. But a struggling employee has tons of upside; rescue him and you make a tremendous difference. Granted, sometimes it won’t work out. When it doesn’t, don’t worry about it.  The effort is its own reward. And occasionally an employee will succeed—and you will have made a tremendous difference in a person’s professional and personal life.”

The sentiment is one exhibited by a sergeant who is the last one over the bridge, the captain who is the last one off the boat. It stands in stark contrast the cliché prescription of ‘firing your bottom 10%’ with robotic regularity. A prescription that only the most inept leaders/managers resort to when they have no real clue how to monitor and manager performance. Instead they opt for a human roulette wheel.

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