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The Best Ways to Lead Employees: Bad Management Practices
February 16th, 2010 by Sergey Novoselov  Posted in In the Workplace, Most Popular, Recruiting & Hiring

Tired of Wacky Job Applicants?Leadership concepts describe the way we organize, inspire, evaluate, and reward employees. With so many management theories, there are some ill-conceived practices that are widely used:
  • Recruiting system that requires candidates to go through multiple steps before they can get as much as a phone interview. Those steps can often be insulting and may include reference and credit checks, questionnaires, online and work assignment tests, etc. Giving hiring responsibilities back to hiring managers can improve the speed and quality of recruiting process.
  • Too many policies waste time and resources and negatively impact creativity. Those who create and enforce policies do not make money for the company. Reducing your policies to a bare minimum will improve performance.
  • Policies that encourage employees to lie or withhold information, such as sick-time policies. It is better to avoid creating those policies. A majority of employees already believe that employers don’t trust them.
  • Frequent-flier miles: if your employees are traveling around the globe, let them keep their hard-earned air and hotel miles. There are other ways to save a few bucks.
  • Firewalls are reasonable to block high bandwidth traffic and video, but should not block every social media website. Employees have lives and connections beyond the office walls and those connections are more likely to help the business than to hurt it. If they’re not getting the work done, deal with that on its own.
  • Timekeeping: recording arrival and departure time works fine for assembly-line workers, but it is not the right message for white-collar salaried employees. Instead, set goals and check if they meet them, leaving the how-and-where issues to the team members themselves.
  • Ranking against peers (or ranking distribution) have a good intent: to improve the organization’s performance, to reward top performers, and improve contributions of low performers. Then, the low performers are removed as the “dead wood,” which drags down higher performers. This goes together with assigning employees in equal numbers to Good, Above Average and Excellent groups, which actually exalts mediocrity. Both practices have a very negative perception. This type of ranking can be a good choice for a TV show but disastrous for an organization. Evaluating employees against written goals would be a better strategy.
  • Anonymous feedback instead of open discussion among the teams. Why not teach your employees and managers how to give each other constructive feedback? Most people do not believe the feedback is anonymous anyway.
  • Layoffs when redundant workers are escorted out the door. This fact already says a lot about the type of workplace that uses this practice. If you have to reduce your staff, treat your employees as professionals.
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Tags: office-culture, management, recruiting, the-best, layoffs
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  • Rob

    Your correct with the Ranking of Peers. I know of cases where several individuals are ranked the same, but you still have to have a percentage of low performers. That mentality does nothing for moral and diminishes the performance of the top producers. If you have several people working at their peak performance, then recognize them for that. Perhaps it's the Executive leadership in those companies that need to reshape their skills across the board.

  • ferd

    Here are a couple of bad management practices that bit me. First is the upper management "open door policy". Supposedly if you cannot work out a problem with your immediate boss you can confer with an upper manager. In reality, you get labeled as a troublemaker or non-team-player because they like your boss (or they wouldn't have promoted him) and also they get most of their information about you from him. The "open door policy" just opens the door to the unemployment office. Second is "matrix management". In theory it is supposed to speed decision processes because lower managers are empowered. But, it is easy to misuse matrix management because upper managers spend less effort managing day-to-day operations and lower managers create their own little fiefdoms. The fiefdoms compete instead of cooperate and then nothing gets done.

  • Julien Boivin

    I could not agree more with this article.

    In my opinion, there are two reasons management would insist on doing timekeeping. The customer is paying by the hour, or, the management does not know how to set goals and measure achievements.


  • Peter Prims

    Ranking employees was one of the factors that got Enron in trouble. It also promotes internal competition rather than teamwork. The result can be civil wars inside a company rather than a unified front against a company's competitors.

  • Very cool article. I think that it is spot on. I especially think the Ranking on is a common challenge these days.


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