Defending Stupidity vs. Productivity at Work
As a consultant and a coach I work with business leaders to achieve their goals by producing business results and identifying key performance indicators (KPI's) that are aligned with the strategic objectives and overall mission of the organization.
My last blog post "When the Dream-Job Turns into a Nightmare" generated some comments related to the piece from "Never work for a jerk." Upon receiving these comments, I began thinking about some of the really stupid experiences people have shared with me that happened at work and waste money, time, energy, talent… not to mention employee morale and motivation and have nothing to do with achieving the strategic objectives or producing KPI's.
The Work Has to Get Done
One person who was a senior director for a large financial institution said: "I quit my last job because I worked for one. I told him I needed help from another team member because I was going on vacation for five days with my family and he simply said to me 'well the work has to get done even if you have to do it while you are away.' This ruined my entire vacation and helped me decide to resign two weeks after returning to work with no regrets and never looked back."
This manager was correct in stating that the work needed to get done. The defense of stupidity comes from how this kind of mindset has permeated the workplace. More and more organizations are putting these kinds of unreasonable demands on their employees and then, when the employees get fed up and leave, have to find someone else to do the work anyway. A solution in this case might have been to issue a delegation of authority to the team member which would have freed up the senior director and provided a valuable developmental opportunity to the recipient. The end result in this case, however, was that the organization lost a valuable leader.
Just a Kid
One manager of a large department who reported to a senior leader who had been in the role for over twenty years shared this story. "During a reorganization following the retirement of a key department head I recommended considering for promotion a high-performing, well-qualified internal candidate. This candidate had been the 'youngest' person hired into a key role fifteen years earlier; a fact my boss referenced often. The promotion was a logical course of progression in his career development. When I mentioned the candidate's name for consideration my boss responded, 'He's just a kid! He was the youngest person we ever hired!' To which I responded, 'That was over fifteen years ago and now he's a seasoned professional with over fifteen years' experience.' The senior leader realized his error in this situation and the employee was promoted, however, it might not have had such a positive result had I not been an advocate for him."
This kind of organizational stupidity was the equivalent of what I call corporate typecasting. This leader still thought of the employee in a junior role and hadn't recognized his growth and development. In this instance he recognized how his own mindset was limited and changed it; however, that's not always the case and often these employees feel as if they're stuck in a dead-end job and will leave the organization because their expertise and experience is not valued.
Use Your Own Money
Another employee told the story of a senior manager who instructed her to use her personal credit card for corporate travel. She was uncomfortable with this and upon researching the company's policies and procedures discovered she could apply for the corporate card on her own; which she did. In the manager's defense of stupidity, he was relying on outdated policies and procedures which had been changed years earlier and he had not kept up with the new procedures. Eventually this manager was asked to leave the organization.
The Micro Manager
This next example was provided by an employee who was told during her performance appraisal that it was the perception of senior management that she was not working enough because she sometimes left the office at quitting time. She pointed out that she worked from home over the weekend, on holidays, vacation days and each evening to keep up with correspondence and projects.
Some managers are more obsessed with micromanaging employees which squelches innovation and creativity. These managers are more concerned that employees are sitting at their desks than whether or not they're producing business results that impact the bottom line results. If employees are producing KPI's and meeting performance objectives that contribute to the bottom line results they can be trusted to continue to do so without being micromanaged. With the current technology available, people can produce bottom line results without being physically at their desks. For example, virtual assistants. These administrative professionals provide a variety of services that used to require an on-site employee and has produced an entire new industry.
This is not to say that some jobs do not require employees to be at their desks or work stations on time for regular business hours, however, business leaders and managers need to focus on business activities that produce business results and add up to bottom line results and avoid costly corporate stupidity and 'nit picking' which demoralizes employees and robs the bottom line.
Is it Contributing to the Bottom Line?
Where might managers be defending stupidity in the workplace? Are outdated mindsets, rules, regulations and processes stifling creativity of team members who then leave out of frustration. Are the policies and procedures outdated or counter-productive and blocking meeting of the organization's KPI's?
The Self-Empowered Leader
In today's business world, a self-empowered leader looks at all the options and is open to innovative solutions and avoids staying stuck in outdated processes. He or she understands that to remain competitive all resources must be utilized for maximum benefit. Employees need develop effective skills to manage in swiftly shifting business trends so the end result adds up to bottom line results and not defending stupidity.