Every Friday, I"ll answer two or three management questions submitted through the "Ask Lisa"?? link found on my blog and on my website. This week I have picked two great questions submitted by Barbara and Hudson (Only two because I got a bit long winded!). If you would like to submit a management question for future Friday posts, click here.
QUESTION: What happened to the “management by walking around” concept?
ANSWER: Interesting question. Nothing happened to the concept or benefits of MBWA, but I think that management jobs have changed in ways that is impacting the number of managers who MBWA. First, and most notably, managers are more time deprived than ever and often the first thing to go is time spent on informal communication and building relationships. Although common, this is a counterproductive choice because taking the time to build relationships saves time in the long run. According to Stephen Covey, managers are spending nearly 50% of their time on urgent but not important tasks. I know some managers that spend all their time on work that does not make a difference – very sad, isn´t it? Anyway, my answer is that the perception of NO TIME is what has happened to MBWA. I encourage managers to MBWA even when they think they don´t have time. You can also MBWA virtually, so don´t let the fact that your team is dispersed get in the way.
QUESTION: I find that the management incentive program at my company is completely ineffective at influencing the behavior of participants. What are your thoughts on management incentive programs in general? Do you have any examples of how these programs can be used as an effective management tool?
ANSWER:This is an important question but I´m biting my tongue on this one..Oh, why bother, here it goes.. Your incentive program is completely ineffective because management incentive programs are useless for affecting performance – period. Do I have any examples of how they can be used as an effective management tool? NO. Peak performance and incentive programs (and performance appraisals, for that matter) are like oil and water – they do not go together. I´ve heard all the rationalizations and they are all hooey.
1. "Our people are motivated by incentives." No they are not. We all love money and if given the choice, we would opt for the opportunity for a bonus versus no opportunity for bonus. Do not confuse our interest in greenbacks with a drive to do great work.
2. "Incentives allow us to pay for performance." No they do not. Incentives are costing you performance, so, in effect you are paying to reduce the potential of your organization.
3. "Our people expect a bonus and if we take it away, we will have a morale problem." In other words, you think continuing to pay to reduce performance is a good management decision? Have the courage to do the right things. Having said this, make sure you pay people a good salary – not for motivation – as a minimum requirement to attract and keep great people.
4. "It is different for sales people."?? Hooey! Sales people will say they are motivated by money, and they may even believe it, but it is hooey. They want money, we all want money. It is not the incentive program that will drive them to do their best work.
Don´t even suggest that juicy executive bonuses drive peak performance – do you watch the news?
I have worked for several very large companies who SWORE by their incentive and appraisal processes. The funny thing is that these elaborate and analytical processes failed liked all others AND cost much more in resources and time.
Here´s the fatal flaw – both incentives and appraisals are based on a model of control. Carrot > Stick, Bell > Salivate > Food, Sell > Money. Why is this a problem? Are you like one of Pavlov´s dogs, ready to salivate at the sound of a bell? Of course not! To do our BEST work we need to be internally driven to excel. When we try to control people (try as we might, we never do) we wreck their inner fire to do great work.
A control based management paradigm does not work.
I could go on forever but will spare you. There are volumes of research that say incentives and performance appraisals are worthless and reduce performance – not just worthless, but damaging. If you want to hear more on this topic, leave me a comment and I will share more in future posts.
Have a different point of view? Please share it!