Common practices hinder employee productivity

February 17, 1992|By Gerald Graham | Gerald Graham,Knight-Ridder News Services

"I did not give you the highest rating on your performance because you would have nothing left to strive for," a manager told one of his workers during a review.

This typical practice, and others, are contrary to our knowledge of employee behavior.

* Withhold high ratings. Rather than dampening effort, high ratings encourage most employees to strive even harder.

* Concentrate on problems. All employees and all performances are flawed -- they always have been and always will be. Yet, many managers focus strongly on employee flaws -- things that are wrong, needed improvements, faults.

Of course, managers should provide feedback in areas that need improving. However, greatest improvement comes when managers loudly and repeatedly endorse employee strengths and successes.

Management quiz

Quantify the strength of your beliefs by allocating 10 points between the positions in each of the following pairs of statements.

1. A. Successes encourage greater effort.

B. Success encourages "resting on your laurels."

2. A. Bad news often pushes people to greater efforts.

B. Bad news seldom pushes people to greater efforts.

3. A. High ratings, even when deserved, reduce effort.

B. Deserved, high ratings stimulate greater effort.

4. A. Focus on correcting problems is effective.

B. Focus on building strengths is effective.

5. A. Let employees know when you are pleased.

B. Never let employees know you are fully satisfied.

6. A. It is effective to point out all possible pitfalls.

B. It is effective to concentrate on hoped-for outcomes.

Total your points allocated to: 1-A, 2-B, 3-B, 4-B, 5-A, 6-B. Forty-five points or higher suggests that you accurately assess these aspects of employee behavior.

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