Categorized | Management

Sweeping Changes: Bold Management or Weak Move?

Building on last week’s post on Yahoo’s work-from-home policy change, let’s look at the big “how” rather than the why.  Cy Wakeman at Forbes wrote a piece basically outlining that a sweeping change in policy is really indicative of deeper problems of leadership within a company.

I believe that leaders should reward their best employees and deal with low performers on a case-by-case basis – instead of making wholesale policy changes. When organizations use broad draconian measures on account of a few low performers, that’s a sure sign that its leaders are trying to avoid conflict and equally please high performers and low performers at the same time. But that approach isn’t effective and rarely works. Not only do the low performers get to hang on for longer than they should, the top performers are punished. The result? Morale sinks.

It’s an interesting point because bold management decisions are often seen as, well, bold.  But Wakeman is basically saying that sometimes a bold decision is only a way to avoid conflict within an organization.  In other words, the bold move is actually the weak choice.

So what’s the answer?  It depends.  If you’re in a management position where you can shake things up, lose people who are low performers, and control absolutely who’s on your staff — then implementing a policy – any policy – should be on a case-by-case basis.  (By the way, controlling who’s on your staff also means confidence in your talent pool.  Do you have high performers waiting in the wings that you can afford?)

But if you’re in a position where you need to make high performers and low performers work well together, then a sweeping change would be the better choice.  Why?  Because management isn’t always about being able to control, absolutely, who’s on your team.  This approach isn’t without downsides.  You may lose top performers, but your overall productivity may rise.

The problem with this approach may come from always managing to the lowest common denominator.  If you can’t reward good performance or punish poor performance to at least some extent you’re not really managing.  And that’s the real problem to manage.

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Tim McPherson

By Tim McPherson

Tim McPherson, President and COO for Nesco Resource, has over 27 years of experience in all facets of the Staffing Services Industry.

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