I wrote this article for Dynamic Business a couple of months ago and think it’s a great time of year to revisit it as we reflect on 2015 and start planning for 2016.
In my mother’s day, women were expected to quit their jobs when they married. Smoking at your desk and boozy lunches were still the norm.
This concept seems crazy to us, and in ten years time, I believe we’ll also look back on our own common practices and ask: “What were we thinking?”
The problem is that conceptually we know that many of the strategies we use aren’t working and we are being served unpalatable processes, policies and systems from above. Effective leaders focus on what they can control, which may mean continuing to apply out-dated management processes but doing so creatively.
Firstly we need to identify management practices that are on their way out. Secondly we need to work out how to get the most out of our teams even if the system is broken. Thirdly, we need to use our voice and influence to communicate what’s not working and how it can be improved to help our organisations move forward and be competitive.
Here are five management practices that are on their way out:
1. Annual Performance Reviews
Annual Performance Reviews are often not relevant to what employees need to achieve on a day-to-day basis. They take a “one size fits all” approach, are too formal and forced. This highly administrative process often puts strain on the organisation with little return on investment. In fact, they can be damaging in the long term.
Effective feedback is provided in a more fluid and immediate way. If your team are waiting for a professional development review every 12 months, you’re in trouble. Instead, set your employees one to three goals every three months aligning day-to-day work with strategic direction. Organise regular check-ins with your employees to provide them with guidance and support.
Technology gives us access to greater flexibility than ever and progressive organisations are not only allowing employees to work from home but they are encouraging it. Office design has moved from hierarchical designs where managers were in offices to open plan layouts with dedicated spaces for collaboration.
Working from home provides employees with the non-interrupted time they require to focus on high-value tasks. Talent often assume that working arrangements will be flexible however there are still some organisations yet to realise the benefits of encouraging employees to work from home.
The key is awareness and choice. Some people need to be in the office to be productive and others have a limit to the amount of time they can work from home or the office without going crazy.
3. Full time employees only need apply
There are still managers out there who won’t hire talent seeking part-time arrangements. They may begrudgingly allow good performers to work part-time after they’ve proven themselves and they reduce their talent pools by only hiring full-time employees.
The employers who attract and retain the best talent are those who understand excellence doesn’t necessarily happen by gluing someone to a seat for 40 hours per week. Effective employees can achieve the same results in 20 hours that others do in 40 hours when they take the time to think, plan and execute efficiently.
4. Forced Ranking
Reducing performance to a number is one thing, adjusting performance scores relative to employees doing completely different jobs across a region or business is another.
There is nothing less motivating for staff than to receive a rating for their work which is much less than they feel they’ve earned. The final decisions around ratings are usually taken out of their manager’s hands and decided by their managers’ managers’ peers who have little visibility over the impacted individuals.
In a forced ranking environment managers need to stand by the ratings given to their employees even when they don’t believe in them and have trouble validating them.
This type of system impacts motivation across organisations. It leads to higher staff turnover after bonuses are paid, and lower productivity in the months following the communication of performance ratings and bonuses.
It also impacts team behaviours. If I know that my bonus can be driven down by my neighbours’ success, I’m less likely to support them.
If you work in an organisation with forced ranking, it’s imperative that you communicate the achievements of your team broadly across the business over the course of the year. This will ensure that decision-makers will value the work of your team.
As a productivity coach, one of the first things that I do is help people identify the meetings that they shouldn’t be attending. Too often though, managers are required to attend meetings that are not relevant and not productive.
Steering committee meetings with long agendas and non-relevant attendees wastes the precious time of the highest earning employees in organisations, and impacts their focus and work-life balance.
If we require our leaders to attend non-relevant meetings for two or more hours per day we are disempowering them and impacting their success in the long run.
Modern organisations are reducing the number of meetings and making sure they use the right methods to communicate messages, gather feedback and make decisions. One of my clients bans meetings on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings, this creates time for employees to plan and get high-value work completed.
I always say, ask yourself: Is a meeting really necessary?