Nonsense At Work

#99: September 2015 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift

September 2015

Outcomes Subtracted Stretch Equality Tomatoes

Your promotion depends on whether you see outcomes or deliverables

outcomes-deliverablesThere’s a lot of self-promotion going on, to the right of us and to the left of us. Let me assure you, being promoted trumps self-promotion any day.

Would you like to be promoted? Here’s a trick that will deliver the outcome you want. The trick is found in two words used in the previous sentence, namely deliver and outcome.

In lower level positions, the focus is on completing tasks. Hence the buzz word “deliverables” – what will you deliver at the end of the day, at the end of the project? Your success is often measured in how efficiently you deliver.

At senior level the focus should be on the outcome that the strategy aims to create. The measure of success should be effectiveness – did we create the desired effect or outcome?

Consider this. The parcel at your door is the deliverable; how you feel on opening it is the outcome. The outcome, not the deliverable, determines whether you will order again.

The ones who understand outcomes are the ones who manage those who must deliver.

You will be subtracted when the value you add becomes negative

No-footprintsLet’s talk about the opposite of promotion. What do you do when a good employee is actually bad? Someone can be good at the job, but the cost of doing is too high. I’m talking about the emotional price co-workers pay.

We all want star performers, which is why we tend to protect them. And yet, invariably a star performer will hamper team results. Sooner or later star performers act the part to the extent that the star ego destroys work relationships.

Why this happens does not matter. What matters is that you fix it, because if you don’t, you might find yourself managing a team of one.

Your role as manager is to explain to all employees that the value they add is dependent on two main components: the contribution they make minus the emotional cost of making it.

And that when the value they add becomes negative, you will subtract them from the team.

When stretch goals stretch the truth

Stretch-goals-from-topAnother week, another company caught misrepresenting financial results. So much for learning from the previous financial meltdown. All of them.

This time the blame falls squarely on senior management. Oh, sorry, that was the case last time as well.

A company in the recent news blamed its profit fudge on unrealistic performance targets. The mere employees who had to do all the work did not dare disagree with their superior superiors. Yet, their jobs were on the line. And so they did the next best thing. They lied. Sorry, they “carried out inappropriate accounting practices to meet targets in line with the wishes of their superiors.”

Every kid knows that if you pull an elastic band beyond its stretch ability, it breaks. It is a truth that many senior executives conveniently forget. And so they continue to set so-called stretch goals that break employees. And the bank.

Why dreams of equality trigger guilt and imprisonment

cannot-please-everyoneWhile we’re on the subject of stretch goals and breaking the bank, have you heard the one about the Seattle CEO who dramatically increased his company’s minimum salary, not wage? See if you can guess who is unexpectedly unhappy.

We evaluate fairness by comparing our performance and reward with the performance and rewards of others. But fairness is a matter of perception. We can perceive unfairness if we feel under-rewarded and, surprise, surprise, also if we feel over-rewarded. This is why an unexpected increase could lead to I-didn’t-earn-this guilt.

We also have this tricky thing called motivation. Rewards that are linked to competence will increase motivation, but rewards perceived to be bribes will do the opposite.

Bribes land you in prison. Hence the fear that a high salary will lock you into staying on when you should clearly be gone.

Okay, you’ve guessed. Some employees are unhappy with the increase. You just cannot please everyone.

How to avoid written tomatoes

bully-at-workSo much wisdom has been lost in this internet age. Like the bit about if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. This is why I am not amazed when people complain about being attacked on-line for pictures they post or opinions they offer.

If you have the tools to act as if all the world’s a stage, and you do, then don’t complain if you are hit by written tomatoes. Actors have been suffering this form of censure for centuries. And yet actors act on.

Time was when your bully had to be brave enough to face you. No longer. They hide behind screens.

But you have a powerful way to stop the on-line bully. It’s called going off-line.

So, if you don’t like the heat, unplug yourself. There’s a real world out here. The stage is smaller, I know, but it’s nicer. Come out and play.

Would you like to stretch your deliverables?

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