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Why Employees Develop Low Morale & Are Managers To Blame?

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Why Employees Develop Low Morale & Are Managers To Blame?

bsnsimo
I am presently helping several managers with low morale problems. This issue is so common that I have decided to try to gain wider understanding of it. So here goes.

Everyone knows that the sports team with the highest morale wins. In fact, every manager wants high morale in his/her group. So why do most managers create low morale in their employees?

In truth, given the societal, educational and workplace related influences, it would be amazing if managers did not create low morale and severely damage employee motivation.

From birth, most of us are told what to do. We receive a rather overwhelming number of orders, directions and policies from those who believe we should follow their dictates; parents, teachers, churches, government and finally bosses in the workplace.

This is commonly referred to as the top-down command and control management model. Having been literally bombarded with this model, it is unsurprising that the vast majority of managers adopt it as their own.

But what of the people being managed with this model? Unfortunately for managers, no one likes to take orders and all consider it to be demeaning, degrading and disrespectful. In addition, they also feel demeaned and degraded if no one listens carefully to their ideas and whatever else they have to say.

But the command and control model implies that employees should listen to the leaders and that leaders have no need to listen to employees. So managers spend most of their time trying to figure out their next order and rarely if ever take the time to listen to their people.

But there are more negative effects on morale and workforce motivation associated with the command and control model, specifically from not listening to employees and not dialoguing with them over workplace problems. Without these, managers are denied a firsthand view of problems from those living with them up close and personal every day.

Without these facts, orders and directives from managers rarely address the real problems and more often exacerbate them. This leads employees to distrust and disrespect management and causes further reductions of morale and workforce motivation.

And there's more. Failure to listen and dialog over perceived problems denies employees information which only the manager has and which is necessary to being able to understand the true cause of problems or the seriousness of them. Lacking this information, employee expectations and criticisms are quite often unrealistic, thus causing the manager to disrespect employees.

Thus, low workforce morale, poorly motivated employees and greatly reduced employee performance quite naturally result from using an authoritarian based command and control model.

Our educational system is of little help. It is excellent at teaching management of "things" like engineering, marketing, finances, supply chain, and quality, but it rarely teaches the soft skills, the whats, whys and how tos of managing people. The tools learned for managing "things" actually reinforce the authoritarian, "just do as I say", approach to managing people.

As a manager, I spent 12 years stuck in this model, stuck with much lower morale and performance than I believed was possible. Fortunately, life provided me with two revelations which allowed me to transform my methods and subsequently prove that a level of employee morale and performance far beyond my wildest dreams does exist.

I now help managers to become effective, mostly by phone, some being paying clients and some not paying except for travel expenses. My website is http://www.bensimonton.com

Thanks for reading,

Ben Simonton
Author, "Leading People to be Highly Motivated and Committed"
http://www.bensimonton.com
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    Tony Hopkinson

    is finding the best way to manage them, some are more comfortable with the directorial style. They want their directions with i's dotted and t's crossed.
    Personally that style drives me mad, set goals, I'll score them, it's what I do. In fact I've never had a manager who could do my job better than I can.

    Recognise and reward ability. Recognise the rewards that work, as well.

    To this end we should all help our managers manage us, if they are doing it wrong tell them. ( I do )

    Management have to learn there is no set way of managing, that a mistakes are to be corrected not denied, and that they can make them.

    Strangely that's what they expect of those they manage.

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    bsnsimo

    Thanks for responding, Tony.

    But, fortunately, there is a way of managing that works for everyone. This way allows everyone to develop a strong sense of ownership of their work. This way results in a gain of over 300% productivity as compared to that of poorly motivated employees.

    In addition, the script involved is easy to learn and easy to execute. I proved its effectiveness in four successful turnarounds including a nuclear-powered cruiser and a 1300 person unionized group in New York City. Over 85% of my subordinate managers were able to pick it up and become exceptional managers of people.

    I admit that this script is not in use in many places, but the great companies, as related in "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, used many if not most of its parts.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    I spent a lot of time on the shop floor in heavy industry. I've seen team working put in place, I've seen it work for some but not others. I've seen it crippled by management.

    I'm just naturally suspicious of magic wands that fire silver bullets.

    My hair is still thinning despite the ointment, the good looking females still aren't throwing themselves at my feet despite the aftershave and my feet still smell , despite the new 'let your feet breathe' technology.

    What about the other 15%, did they sack or demote them?

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    bsnsimo

    Sorry to respond so late. I missed this one somehow.

    I was the one in charge. Out of the 1300 I started with, less than 20 were fired over the first four years. After that, I don't remeber. About a fifth of those fired were in management.

    The 15% I refer to were those who never took charge of their own lives and work. They remained followers and could not be converted to non-followers. But they were certainly more than adequate workers, just not so highly productive, creative and innovative.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    none of the rest of us could lead!

    Best team I ever worked on, there were five of us at team leader level. The one who knew the way, lead the way. One of the five of usually had a vague idea of where to go.

    No pep talk required, common sense and mutual respect.

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    bsnsimo

    You are right in what you said. All being leaders is the best of all worlds.

    I use the term follower to mean a person who is attempting to conform to what she "thinks" is expected of her. Because of that, followers expend much of their brainpower attempting to discern what is expected of them and are always blaming others for what happens. Followers discern the value standards in use in the workplace and do their work in accordance with them. Thus, a follower can he dishonest because of believing that the bosses are dishonest and accepting that standard as their guide to doing their work.

    On the other hand, a non-follower is one who does what she thinks is the right thing to do based on her own value standards and makes no attempt to conform. Thus, the non-follower can expend 100% of brainpower on the work since there is no need to detect what is going on in order to learn to what to conform.

    Non-followers spend no time complaining or blaming others for what transpires in comparison it followers. Thus, non-followers are very highly productive as compared to followers since all creativity, innovation and productivity come from the brain.

    About 95% of all people are followers, to a greater or lesser extent. If managers want to achieve extremely high performance, ~ 300%+ productivity gains, they must convert followers into non-followers.

    In my last position as exec of a 1300 person unionized group, I was able to convert more than 80%. The beauty of this is that once converted to being their own person and tasting that independence and power, no one will ever return to being a follower.

    Hope this explains.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    Personally I'd judge a follower struggling to discover how to follow as a failure to lead. Usually find in that situation that the person isn't a leader but a pointer.

    Leading is done from the front, so follow is simply "after him" (or her).

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    Jaqui

    are right, I have someone who isn't happy unless I give himdetailed orders with timelines, he can't function without them.

    I much prefer a flat management style, where each person on the "team" is in charge of the area they are best at.
    This works great with most people, they know their ideas are being listened to and implemented, they are getting the responsability of leadership, when it's best for the team. This also helps the entire team to keep moral and team spirit high, they know that they are a valued member of the team.

    I also tend to keep teams together as much as possible,since they will develop a work style that suits them best, keeping their productivity as high as possible, without adding stresses that would reduce it, such as having to learn a whole new team's weaknesses and strengths.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    our job who requires a set of instructions every time. A good manager can make use of them though, they are sort of like an extra pair of hands.

    It's when they get promoted through simple seniority, or to get them out of the way, people get annoyed.

    I've seen both of those happen as well, there's nothing like being managed by a total nipplehead to make you feel valued.

    The thing that annoys me most is when people confuse leadership and management, as though it's automatic that if you are one you must be the other. I'm apparently a reasonable leader, don't know whether I would be a good manager though.

    You can be both, you can be neither, but any organisation needs both skills in place to be successful.

    One thing IT really needs to do is to get rid of the idea that management is the only way to be more successful. The number of times you see a good tech turned into a bad manager just to get an extra few k on the salary is hurting everybody.

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    yup

    Jaqui

    that's one of the benefits of a flat management structure, everyone gets the chance to learn leadership and management skills, in such a way that it benefits the company.

    an important part of it is to share the credit as well as the blame [ both good management and good leadership ], not keep the credit and share the blame only.
    [ a common practice ]

    I detest any environment that promotes on senority instead of on ability. a really good leader should be given the leader role, a good tech should be rewarded with a raise, or more benefits or both, depending.

    most good techs are only really interested in being techs, that's why they have the best skills. keep them where they are happy, and reward them for their skills in that position.

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    michael.mulvihill

    You hit on the head, the point I have tried to make many times before.

    Some people are good leaders and others are good workers. The unfortunate reality is that, in most corporate structures, the reward/raise scenario comes to a point where the only option for reward is a promotion to management. e.g. "A PC Tech can't make 'X' as a salary but we can't lose Jim, make him the manager".

    In the end if 'Jim' is not a good leader, you've lost both morale of the team and a good worker.

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    bsnsimo

    If management does not have a script to use to train and develop existing managers as well as prospective managers, there is no way to chose the right people to make into managers.

    I had a rather precise script which prospective managers saw being effectively used to manage people by leadership and allowing workers to develop a strong sense of responsibility. Without such a script, selection of the right people to be managers is a hit or miss effort doomed to mediocrity.

    I witnessed this in many organizations when I was relatively young.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    BlueKnight

    If the script doesn't begin with a good, objective performance evaluation, it would be of little use.

    The script may be excellent for development and training of new managers, but not everyone is management material, for any of a number of reasons. Those not fit for management need to be weeded out.

    Another potential fly in the ointment is if current management really has no clue as to how to do a decent appraisal of employees' performance -- or they have a clue, but don't care to spend the time to do it right. The result in either case is tantamount to the social promotion we see in our schools... and you know what the results of that practice has been.

    (Edited to correct grammatical error)

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    BlueKnight

    The morale issue hinges more on ability and recognition/reward than anything else - assuming of course the employee works at something they enjoy. That being said, an employee's morale can be raised by recognizing their efforts and rewarding them appropriately, even if they work at something they really don't like.

    One aspect I haven't seen mentioned in this thread, though I admit I haven't read all posts, is team member selection. A team needs members who possess the skills necessary to do the work assigned, and tasks need to be assigned based on member strengths. But teams also need to be comprised of members who have the right "chemistry" of personality, interpersonal congeniality and such. You can have top notch personnel relative to their skills and abilities, but if you have members who do not get along with each other, you've got big trouble.

    As a manager, you really need to be able to read people so you can select team members with not only the required skills and experience, but also the right balance of personality traits. There is no script for this however... you either have it, or you acquire this skill as you develop (and make mistakes in the process).

    The manager I work for is fabulous. He knows how to assemble a team that is truly a cohesive unit... we all work extremely well together, and we all get along like good friends. He also recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of each individual and lets them know he appreciates their efforts.

    One thing that drives me mad is management that is afraid to take corrective action with a "problem" employee. It's usually a younger manager, but not always. One of our remote sites had a "problem" employee, and rather than trying to figure out why he was a "problem," they reassigned him to another location working on something he had no knowledge of. So now we had an employee with low morale, who had to be trained on something he really didn't want to work on, at a location he wasn't happy working at - pile on more morale degradation. Then the original site, found themselves in a bind and transferred said employee back to their site to work at some meanial job on graveyard shift. The employee ended up quitting (surprise, surprise) and is now telling everyone why they should not work for this organization - and I can't blame him one bit.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    In ours when we interview for a position, whether we think we can work with them is a very important consideration.

    Part of the responsibility, matey boy has been preaching on about.

    A manager is external to a team, he can say I think Fred's a good guy, but if we think he's a wanker it's never going to work.

    As for your problem child that's standard management training.

    Guide To Management

    One, Never make a decision

    Two, If you have to, create a steering committee to spread the blame.

    Three, when you do have a scapegoat pre-prepared in case you screwed up again.

    Four, If all else fails, let the MD win at golf.

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    BlueKnight

    We certainly don't want any wankers on the team. Thankfully, the members of our team get to screen resumes as well as participate in the interview and selection process... unusual for this place; but then, our team happens to be the ONLY team that comes in on time and within budget and we do it consistently.

    Your comments on management are all too true. I've seen way too many managers at the extremes... some micro-manage, but more frequently we see those who practice M.B.D.N. (management by doing nothing). The decision making process generally consists of calling a meeting, then polling the attendees for their ideas/feedback then the most "popular" idea becomes the manager's decision. That, of course, fulfills rule #1 and part of #2, and sets up the meeting attendees as potential scapegoats for #3.

    I guess my approach to management was all wrong. I never had any problem making decisions, though there are some that one wishes wouldn't have to be made. If a decision turned out not to be so good, I took the hit for my own decision. When I was credited for doing such a good job on something, I always made sure to give the credit to those who worked for me... they did the work, not me.

    Too bad there weren't any "good" role models for me... maybe I coulda learned MBDN -- NOT!
    Way too late now.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    A good employee in management or not, will say oops, correct it and not do it again.

    A bad one will look for someone else to blame and then attempt never to be seen to make one again.

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    jkameleon

    At repetitive, assembly line type of work, any morale, that does not include monkeywrenching is high enough. It's no problem to maintain it anyhow. Knowledge is the power, and managers typically know more about the work being done than workers being managed. They either have more education, or more experience ( the ones promoted into management after certain amount of time on the job).

    In IT, however, the opposite is usually the case. Workers are far more knowleadgeable than their bosses, who studied management, not mathematics, science or technology. To make the matters worse, there is no place for repetitive work in IT. That's what computers do, not people. Most of the IT work involves problem solving of some kind. ?What Gets Measured Gets Done?, says the traditional manegerial wisdom, but alas, the problem solving work is utterly immeasureable. The only way of getting things done in such line of work is at least minimum amount of ... ummm... well... not quite morale, but integrity and mutual trust. Employees should willingly devote some of ther their creativity and brain cells to the job. Employers should restrain themselves from squeezing too much profit out of employees while providing some sort of job stability.

    In the long years I've spent in this profession, I've seen this trust violated many, many times, from both sides. Around the 90s, however, violations from the employer's side became systematic. MAD, management fads, in a word: dilbertization.

    Honesty, goodwill, and trust are like mineral oil. Once it's pumped out, turned into cash and burned, it's gone. The only thing you can do about it is to wait a couple of billions of years until it forms again. In the meantime, you'll just have to live without it.

    I've taken a look at your website, and from what I can tell, it's just another BS commercial for another BS motivation manual. The only way of finding out what's in there is to buy it, which I'm not going to do. I presume, it's the usual motivational stuff, so let me comment on that.

    * Commendations: Unless they are accompanied by some sort of cash incentive, they are worse than nothing. IT worker must measure his/hers output carefully. Grumbling boss means that the tempo and quality of work is just about right. Fuming boss means I should quicken the pace a little, if I want to keep that shitty job of mine. Smiling and laudatory boss means I blew it. My workload is about to increase, and I will be left without the precious buffer time necessary for solving the occasional tougher, time consuming problems.

    * Talking: Dont. It's getting on my nerves.

    * Listening: Don't bother, I got nothing to tell.

    * More esotheric methods of motivation: Don't even try it, I've seen them all.

    * Education & training, the real stuff: Sooo, looks like you expect me to stick around for a while eh? Well, OK, I appreciate that.

    * Education & training, infomercial style: Sooo, you are trying to get away cheaply, do you. **** you!

    * Money: Now that's something that keeps me fully motivated. So, quit monkeying around, and untie your purse. Don't waste your money on some BS motivation manuals and stuff, better give it to me.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    motivation is based on financial reward?

    Where's the profit in that?

    What's we've seen over that last decade and a half cost cutting. It's that simple, treat an employee as a cost, morale is in the bucket.

    Attempting to keep employees happy in a cost cutting environment, waste of money.

    I agree with you, spend the money taking them out for a beer and pizza.

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    jkameleon

    > I agree with you, spend the money taking them out for a beer and pizza.

    Or, better yet, give the beer and pizza money to me, and let me spend it the way I want.

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    bsnsimo

    A few thoughts in response.

    As for IT versus all others, having managed both I found no real difference except that IT and electrons always thought they were special. I have never seen the case that management knew more about the work than the worker level. Of course, management acts as if they do which is a root cause of low morale.

    Thanks for taking a look at my website and I certainly cannot blame you for your conclusion that I am just another motivation hype type. Most management books are crap and not helpful.

    Having managed people for over 30 years, I did a lot of searching for good advice in books. Most writers, so-called gurus, spent their entire career writing books and consulting.

    Peter Drucker wrote over 20 books on the subject, never solved the problem, but made a huge amount of money presenting the latest fad. Tom Peters was honest enough to admit in his fourth book that if you had followed what he said in his first three books you would not be better off.

    These books provide lots of whats, no whys and almost no how tos. The vast majority were written by people who have no experience managing people.

    My book relates all the whats, whys and how tos of managing people, from soup to nuts, from a precise expose of what leadership is and is not and why, to the precise actions to take and even what to say and not say in order to create highly motivated employees, to the precise actions to take to resolve personality conflicts and negative attitudes, to correcting stress.

    These are all easy to learn and easy to execute, but do require considerable effort. I used these, had not yet written them down in book form, to train my subordinate managers and turn them all into exceptional managers of people. These methods were proven in the heat of battle as I successfully turned around four management disasters including a nuclear-powered cruiser and a 1300 person unionized group in New York City.

    The payoff to doing it right, the difference between poorly motivated and highly motivated people is on the order of 300-500% in productivity. The 500% number comes from Stephen Covey, another guru but one I respect, and the at least 300% from my personal experience in turnarounds. The change in each case amazed onlookers, but was generally met with disbelief.

    I don't blame you for being skeptical. Read the comments about my book on Amazon. I would like to send you a pdf copy by email if you would be interested in reading it.

    Thanks again for commenting.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    jkameleon

    > As for IT versus all others, having managed both I found no real difference except that IT and electrons always thought they were special.

    I imagine we are special because our work mostly consists of problem solving. Consequently, all goading attempts are bound to backfire, often in very subtle ways.

    Problem solving nature of IT work means, that there is no accurate metrics. Deadlines, the most essential spurring tool, are consequently impossible to determine in a fair manner. I've done a lot of bickering with project leaders and similar types about this, but they strictly adhere to what's written in their textbooks. They claim, that a person, experienced enough in software development, can estimate task times precisely. IMHO, only routine tasks are predictable. If it's routine, it can be done by computer, therefore it's superfluous. IOW, you can predict only duration of reinventing the wheel- development tasks you don't really need to be done.


    > Having managed people for over 30 years, I did a lot of searching for good advice in books. Most writers, so-called gurus, spent their entire career writing books and consulting.
    >
    > Peter Drucker wrote over 20 books on the subject, never solved the problem, but made a huge amount of money presenting the latest fad. Tom Peters was honest enough to admit in his fourth book that if you had followed what he said in his first three books you would not be better off.

    Oh, my! :) That's exactly like software engineering. There are thousands of books written about it, about the size of two bricks each, written by about as many gurus. They all look awesomely wise on the cover pictures, these gurus, because they are holding their chins betwixt their index fingers and thumbs. Unfortunately, guys who are good at writing books, usually have no idea about developing software, and the other way round. Guys who are good at expressing themselves in computer language, are very poor at writing in natural language. Consequently, most books on software development are more or less detached from reality.


    > These are all easy to learn and easy to execute, but do require considerable effort.

    Yea, effort is always the key. No manners, no matter how sophisticated, can substitute it.

    Combined with cost cutting, downsizing, and such, however, such effort can only make things worse. Cost cutting means writing the morale off, plain and simple. After years of quarterly bottom line oriented management, everything is down to cold, hard cash. Since Enron, even the company stock options are no longer an option, at least as far as I'm concerned.


    > The payoff to doing it right, the difference between poorly motivated and highly motivated people is on the order of 300-500% in productivity. The 500% number comes from Stephen Covey, another guru but one I respect, and the at least 300% from my personal experience in turnarounds. The change in each case amazed onlookers, but was generally met with disbelief.

    In software development, these differences are typically higher, 1000% and more, but nobody, including lower & middle management seems to be very comfortable with such pace. They prefer to keep it on about 10% of what's possible. The reason is, that the course of software development is very irregular and unpredictable, and that's something typical manager does not want to deal with. That's why everybody keeps it throttled down, to maintain the illusion of predictability.

    IT does not correct the faults of bureaucracy it serves. It can only amplify them. The same factors, that drive down efficiency of bureaucracy, drive down productivity of it's IT as well. The same logic, that makes bureaucracy bloat, produces bloated software as well. As far as I know, there is no antidote to that.


    > I would like to send you a pdf copy by email if you would be interested in reading it.

    My username is my email at yahoo.com . I haven't figured out how to change it yet. Anyway, if you think you could find my worm's eye-view observations useful, send pdf to jkameleon@yahoo.com, and I'll gladly take a look at it.

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    bsnsimo

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Is the 1000% number a one person or a few people number or is that achievable across a large group? My 300%+ was per person averaged across about 800 workers achieved over a 4 year period.

    Sorry to hear that your software books are so bad. And the terms irregular and unpredictable would certainly apply to a lot work associated with overhauling huge steam turbines or fixing nuclear reactor problems. Everything appears different but is mostly the same.

    I will send the book.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    jkameleon

    Looks interesting, at a first glance. I'll go through it, and reply to you by email.

    > And the terms irregular and unpredictable would certainly apply to a lot work associated with overhauling huge steam turbines or fixing nuclear reactor problems.

    Large machinery is a hard core engineering. Errors are very costly here. Consequently, everything must be meticulously planned, and every eventuality predicted.

    In software development, there is entirely different situation. Program you are writing is tested over and over again. You write a couple of lines of code, and test the whole thing. Fix a couple of things, and test. Add a couple of things, and test. Sometimes you deliberately make an error, to see how roboust the rest of the program is. It's like disassembling a turbine or nuclear reactor, tinkering with it a little, and assembling it again about a ten times per hour. Classical engineering methods and mentality are eventually applicable only on the topmost level of very large software project. On the bottom, they are totally counterproductive.

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    bsnsimo

    very familiar to me. I was the sponsor for a few years of the effort to develop the Aegis system and its software programs. At the same time, I was a co-sponsor of the Tomhawk land attack program. The software development processes were not unlike designing a new nuclear reactor core.

    I am unfamiliar with the term classical engineering methods. Engineering methods must suit the work and not vice versa. There is no one size fits all.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    troisj

    Thanks Ben for sending Kameleon your book for free - I just bought it at your site - speaking about motivational tools - in this case of your clients LOL

    So, a bit of ranting ("BS, management fad") will make you give away your book....
    Ok, here goes: your website @#!%!, but I (SPAM removed by author)

    Other than that: I think your book is too cheap (although I haven't read it yet). Compared to all the 'guru-bibles', which are compulsory textbooks at universities all over the world, it should be priced at least at same level.

    Kameleon: I'm interested in your review of the book.

    About corporate culture: I think most of the present poor performance is related to a few things:
    1) Short-term goals - shareholders are king;
    2) 'Followers' in management - everybody follows each other only to blend in and not to stand out (ever wondered why golf became so popular?) - and to keep the ranks closed;
    3) Lack of personalities in management (no 'leaders') - only busy with their own survival (and corporate golf, 'of course');
    4) Lousy education: it's all about management theory and principles; 'listening to the floor' is either old-fashioned, too simplistic or just 'not done'. Or all three of them;
    5) Greed in highest ranks: lay-offs, yet bonuses go up.

    Obviously, there is more. Much more. Workers' attitude, regulations, political correctness, stupid unions: it all adds up. The results we know...

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    bsnsimo

    And I concur that my website needs work. I have a person doing exactly that at present. I produced the website from scratch and that shows how dangerous a twice-retired nuclear engineer manager can be with a website. Thanks for your offer.

    The book is priced to recover my costs and no more. I am trying to make knowledge available that most managers need. I am not trying to make a living at this, only to help active managers.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://bensimonton.com

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    Falconeer

    If I were to ?put on? my thinking cap I could not find a better reply? Woops!! Don?t have a thinking cap any more.

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    shardeth-15902278

    Higher motivation means higher quality work (fewer defects, safer products... all that good stuff).

    IT or Not, the people actually doing the work, tend to know more than there managers. Unfortuantely, IT or Not, managers, tend to think they are smarter or more important than the people they manage.

    You are right though. Management FADs, whether based on sound principles or not, don't work. Not unless those sound principles are internalized, at all levels.

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    wookie2u

    I reckon the IT industry is a "special case" in one respect. It's populated by intoverts.

    That's why good techies make bad managers, more often than not.

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    bsnsimo

    anyone can learn how to manage people and be an exceptional manager of people. Personality makes no difference. If the person wants to become a truly effective manager, I can make him/her into one with a reasonable amount of coaching. The actions one must learn and practice are easy to understand and easy to execute.

    I admit that conventional wisdom and conventional approaches won't be successful and always cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

    If anyone wants to learn, I am willing to help.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    is that they can find their *** without a rear view mirror and two helpers giving directions.

    Anyone can learn to do anything, being what I'd call exceptional is limited to those with a talent.

    You can learn ways of avoiding obvious errors, managing by numbers as it were, you can't learn to be exceptional though. You either are or you aren't.

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    bsnsimo

    By exceptional I mean that they become more effective than over 90% of all managers. I admit that standard is rather low, but still it means they are far better than most. Their people became far more productive and motivated than perhaps 95% of all people.

    I admit that is hard to believe, but it is true nonetheless.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    I'm an IT professional I'm easy to motivate. I enjoy my job.
    Most management gurus aren't talking motivation, they are talking off setting de-motivation.

    You are such a valued member of the team Tony, if you take a pay cut we'll let you stay.

    Oh thankee kind sir, says the peon doffing his cheap *** threadbare hat.

    I'm doing this for me, just like you do it for you. I don't censure you for looking after your own ***, don't censure me for looking after mine.

    That you value your *** more than you do mine is expected, expecting me to value your *** more than mine, is just plain stupid.

    What you can do with your people to get on. Wrong ! What we can do together for all of us , RIGHT. Fooling people into following you is not leadership, when you get found out, you'll be stabbed in the back.

    That's my leadership in a nutshell talk.

    Are you worried ?

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    bsnsimo

    The only solution is to remove all demotivators, all obstacles to better performance.

    In order to be do this, managers must put the needs of their people first, before their own needs. Workforce members are always more important than their bosses because they are the ones who actually do the work.

    Bosses are only there to support the workforce. Bosses are the earth which rotates around the workers who are the sun. Without the heat of the sun, bosses die. This is a basic truth to management.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    A lot of managers would though.
    I always try to remember a manager is just a worker with a different set of responsibilities, it's the split in perceived value that starts off the demotivation.

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    tommy higbee

    This is probably one of the central insights management really needs: to remember that they're not the ones doing the "real" work, and their role is to help those who are doing the real work.

    In other words, learn to respect the "managed", because they're the ones doing the actual work that you'll get credit for.

    This goes hand-in-hand with the other key: that most of the "managed" actually WANT to do a good job, if only they could have the resources they need to do it. Which is where management comes in.

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    jdmercha

    TRUST!

    Show me an employee who is trusted to do there job, and I'll show you a happy, motivated employee.

    There are many theories on manageing people. And I'm sure yours works just fine. But you need to take them all with a grain of salt. For one thing, managment consutlants are hired to fix poor mangement. Any theory, properly applied will show positive results.

    But changing management styles in a company that is working just fine, can often have the opposite affect. Change for the sake of change is a waste of time and can be detrimental to morale.

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    bsnsimo

    I agree.

    And how are things in my birth city? Was raised in Cazenovia on the lake. Loved it.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    jdmercha

    I guess nothing has changed. I'm looking to get out of here and move down to FL also.

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    jvdmerwe

    Can I say one thing that is not the be all and end all. In management you get 2 kinds of managers....... one who leads with respect and the other with fear. I agree with parts of your post but trust is only a part of it, your style detemines the morale levels. Another thing what about personality clashes between employee and manager?????? there is no answer to that and morale will always be low and trust me I'm in that situation now.

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    bsnsimo

    if you are the boss. I agree that they are very damaging to morale. I have been able to correct each and every one thus restoring morale.

    I am willing to provide my solution and coach you to success in using it every step of the way if you so desire.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Zen37

    I find that managers more than management is the problem.

    Now i can only talk in the IT field since I've never been in others, but in our field, EGO is big. You just need to read some posts in these forums to see some pretty big ones. I personally believe that ego is detrimental to good management and in IT, it is too often present.

    Take the managers who manage upwards instead of downwards. Their objectives are self centered instead of being company centered. It is very difficult to work for these individuals and i see more and more of them out there.

    Take the "know-it-alls" out there. Managers that seem to think they have all the answers to all the problems without having to consult anyone. If they are so good, why aren't they the only employee in the group? Again, it's difficult to work for those and there are a lot of them out there.

    Money is a good short term means of boosting moral. But is our cost cutting minimalist world we live in, it's getting tougher and tougher to get. One solution to that is performance bonuses. But performance measurement in IT is so difficult, the only real measurement you can do is cost. Cut cost and you will save money. That will increase the bosses bonuses but not the employees. Which makes the bosses happy.

    I personally believe that a happy employee is one that is trusted in doing his work properly, one that is not entirely overworked, but does not find much "downtime" either. One that has some form of job security and appreciation. One who might not always be listen to, but will always be heard. One who is a valued member of a team, not the scapegoat.

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    bsnsimo

    Ego is the enemy of humility and without humility there is no way to allow people to develop that strong sense of ownership prerequisite to superior performance. Have you ever caught someone washing rental car? They last about 2 years while a car owned by a person will last 10, 20 and even more years.

    Trust is a workplace lubricant and is also prerequisite to superior performance. The easiest way to resolve that is to equip employees with any knowledge or info they want and turn over the workplace to them such that there is nothing for them to distrust.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    willjamr

    "Have you ever caught someone washing rental car? They last about 2 years while a car owned by a person will last 10, 20 and even more years."

    I believe that the rental companies wash their cars frequently, if not every time they are returned. They are sold after a year or two, not scrapped.

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    neilb@uk

    Or is this just interactive spam?

    Follow the money...

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    michael.mulvihill

    All replies seem to point back to the book with no real answers. Selling services/advice on here isn't necessarily a bad thing but there should be at least some helpful snippits.

    In fact I've developed a model for TechRepublic forum advertising and it's all in my new book. Please send check or money order .....

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    neilb@uk

    to see if he'd actually SAY something other than how he could "help" if you bought his book or services. If he'd just push off - stop answering every post with another puff for himself - it could probably develop into a reasonable thread.

    I make my money by selling bridges. I have a cracker for sale right now! Look really nice scross the Intracoastal Waterway! http://tinyurl.com/yxboks

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    bsnsimo

    My services are provided to anyone who needs them and whether they pay or not is up to them.

    If anyone wants my book and cannot afford it I will send them a free copy.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    neilb@uk

    I merely invited comment from fellow peers as to whether the starting post of this thread fitted the definition for the spam that occasionally affects this site. I gave you the benefit of the doubt for a few dozen posts.

    Trust me in this. Had I been offended, the tone of my post would have been very different and would have been accompanied by a request to the TR PTB to pull the thread.

    I still see no reason to change my stance. Perhaps purchasing an advert on TR or submitting an article containing real information would be a more appropriate way to approach the site members.

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    keith.j.kunz

    Employees are generally smart enough to understand that if you get a 5% raise for working your heart out and if (real) inflation is 4% for that year, you basically worked your heart out for nothing!

    Oh yes, and in addition to the 5% there wasn't even an 'attaboy' or 'attagirl' to go with it. Most of us have bills to pay and a $300 per month gas bill just to keep our families at 72 during the day and 65 at night.

    Bottom line: Be sure you are working for someone who is making money, lots of it!

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    dougbrong

    I've been a Computer Scientist for 35 long years. After about 5 years, I realized that I had to work for myself. I didn't go to college for 7 years to sit in a cubicle, and take 'direction' from some manager who used to sell kitchen appliances. Also what's the fun of sitting at your desk all day?

    IMO, creative, thoughful, energetic people are never going to be satisfied with any wage job.

    The other problem is money. The sales / marketing / and management get the perks, while the engineers get 4% raises.

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    jefferyp2100

    Management and leadership are distinctly different. You manage things -- schedules, assignments, parking spaces but lead people.

    The biggest problem in the technical field is that too many managers were promoted into those positions because they were no good at their technical jobs. The worst managers are clueless about why they were promoted and insist on micromanaging their people. Should a failed programming really be the person to tell good programmers how to do their work?

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    bsnsimo

    You are quite right that the only way to manage people is through leadership.

    If you would like to read an article on that subject, go to
    http://www.bensimonton.com/Leadership,%20the%20only%20way%20to%20manage%20people.htm

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    is finding the best way to manage them, some are more comfortable with the directorial style. They want their directions with i's dotted and t's crossed.
    Personally that style drives me mad, set goals, I'll score them, it's what I do. In fact I've never had a manager who could do my job better than I can.

    Recognise and reward ability. Recognise the rewards that work, as well.

    To this end we should all help our managers manage us, if they are doing it wrong tell them. ( I do )

    Management have to learn there is no set way of managing, that a mistakes are to be corrected not denied, and that they can make them.

    Strangely that's what they expect of those they manage.

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    bsnsimo

    Thanks for responding, Tony.

    But, fortunately, there is a way of managing that works for everyone. This way allows everyone to develop a strong sense of ownership of their work. This way results in a gain of over 300% productivity as compared to that of poorly motivated employees.

    In addition, the script involved is easy to learn and easy to execute. I proved its effectiveness in four successful turnarounds including a nuclear-powered cruiser and a 1300 person unionized group in New York City. Over 85% of my subordinate managers were able to pick it up and become exceptional managers of people.

    I admit that this script is not in use in many places, but the great companies, as related in "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, used many if not most of its parts.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    I spent a lot of time on the shop floor in heavy industry. I've seen team working put in place, I've seen it work for some but not others. I've seen it crippled by management.

    I'm just naturally suspicious of magic wands that fire silver bullets.

    My hair is still thinning despite the ointment, the good looking females still aren't throwing themselves at my feet despite the aftershave and my feet still smell , despite the new 'let your feet breathe' technology.

    What about the other 15%, did they sack or demote them?

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    bsnsimo

    Sorry to respond so late. I missed this one somehow.

    I was the one in charge. Out of the 1300 I started with, less than 20 were fired over the first four years. After that, I don't remeber. About a fifth of those fired were in management.

    The 15% I refer to were those who never took charge of their own lives and work. They remained followers and could not be converted to non-followers. But they were certainly more than adequate workers, just not so highly productive, creative and innovative.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    none of the rest of us could lead!

    Best team I ever worked on, there were five of us at team leader level. The one who knew the way, lead the way. One of the five of usually had a vague idea of where to go.

    No pep talk required, common sense and mutual respect.

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    bsnsimo

    You are right in what you said. All being leaders is the best of all worlds.

    I use the term follower to mean a person who is attempting to conform to what she "thinks" is expected of her. Because of that, followers expend much of their brainpower attempting to discern what is expected of them and are always blaming others for what happens. Followers discern the value standards in use in the workplace and do their work in accordance with them. Thus, a follower can he dishonest because of believing that the bosses are dishonest and accepting that standard as their guide to doing their work.

    On the other hand, a non-follower is one who does what she thinks is the right thing to do based on her own value standards and makes no attempt to conform. Thus, the non-follower can expend 100% of brainpower on the work since there is no need to detect what is going on in order to learn to what to conform.

    Non-followers spend no time complaining or blaming others for what transpires in comparison it followers. Thus, non-followers are very highly productive as compared to followers since all creativity, innovation and productivity come from the brain.

    About 95% of all people are followers, to a greater or lesser extent. If managers want to achieve extremely high performance, ~ 300%+ productivity gains, they must convert followers into non-followers.

    In my last position as exec of a 1300 person unionized group, I was able to convert more than 80%. The beauty of this is that once converted to being their own person and tasting that independence and power, no one will ever return to being a follower.

    Hope this explains.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    Personally I'd judge a follower struggling to discover how to follow as a failure to lead. Usually find in that situation that the person isn't a leader but a pointer.

    Leading is done from the front, so follow is simply "after him" (or her).

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    Jaqui

    are right, I have someone who isn't happy unless I give himdetailed orders with timelines, he can't function without them.

    I much prefer a flat management style, where each person on the "team" is in charge of the area they are best at.
    This works great with most people, they know their ideas are being listened to and implemented, they are getting the responsability of leadership, when it's best for the team. This also helps the entire team to keep moral and team spirit high, they know that they are a valued member of the team.

    I also tend to keep teams together as much as possible,since they will develop a work style that suits them best, keeping their productivity as high as possible, without adding stresses that would reduce it, such as having to learn a whole new team's weaknesses and strengths.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    our job who requires a set of instructions every time. A good manager can make use of them though, they are sort of like an extra pair of hands.

    It's when they get promoted through simple seniority, or to get them out of the way, people get annoyed.

    I've seen both of those happen as well, there's nothing like being managed by a total nipplehead to make you feel valued.

    The thing that annoys me most is when people confuse leadership and management, as though it's automatic that if you are one you must be the other. I'm apparently a reasonable leader, don't know whether I would be a good manager though.

    You can be both, you can be neither, but any organisation needs both skills in place to be successful.

    One thing IT really needs to do is to get rid of the idea that management is the only way to be more successful. The number of times you see a good tech turned into a bad manager just to get an extra few k on the salary is hurting everybody.

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    yup

    Jaqui

    that's one of the benefits of a flat management structure, everyone gets the chance to learn leadership and management skills, in such a way that it benefits the company.

    an important part of it is to share the credit as well as the blame [ both good management and good leadership ], not keep the credit and share the blame only.
    [ a common practice ]

    I detest any environment that promotes on senority instead of on ability. a really good leader should be given the leader role, a good tech should be rewarded with a raise, or more benefits or both, depending.

    most good techs are only really interested in being techs, that's why they have the best skills. keep them where they are happy, and reward them for their skills in that position.

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    michael.mulvihill

    You hit on the head, the point I have tried to make many times before.

    Some people are good leaders and others are good workers. The unfortunate reality is that, in most corporate structures, the reward/raise scenario comes to a point where the only option for reward is a promotion to management. e.g. "A PC Tech can't make 'X' as a salary but we can't lose Jim, make him the manager".

    In the end if 'Jim' is not a good leader, you've lost both morale of the team and a good worker.

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    bsnsimo

    If management does not have a script to use to train and develop existing managers as well as prospective managers, there is no way to chose the right people to make into managers.

    I had a rather precise script which prospective managers saw being effectively used to manage people by leadership and allowing workers to develop a strong sense of responsibility. Without such a script, selection of the right people to be managers is a hit or miss effort doomed to mediocrity.

    I witnessed this in many organizations when I was relatively young.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    BlueKnight

    If the script doesn't begin with a good, objective performance evaluation, it would be of little use.

    The script may be excellent for development and training of new managers, but not everyone is management material, for any of a number of reasons. Those not fit for management need to be weeded out.

    Another potential fly in the ointment is if current management really has no clue as to how to do a decent appraisal of employees' performance -- or they have a clue, but don't care to spend the time to do it right. The result in either case is tantamount to the social promotion we see in our schools... and you know what the results of that practice has been.

    (Edited to correct grammatical error)

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    BlueKnight

    The morale issue hinges more on ability and recognition/reward than anything else - assuming of course the employee works at something they enjoy. That being said, an employee's morale can be raised by recognizing their efforts and rewarding them appropriately, even if they work at something they really don't like.

    One aspect I haven't seen mentioned in this thread, though I admit I haven't read all posts, is team member selection. A team needs members who possess the skills necessary to do the work assigned, and tasks need to be assigned based on member strengths. But teams also need to be comprised of members who have the right "chemistry" of personality, interpersonal congeniality and such. You can have top notch personnel relative to their skills and abilities, but if you have members who do not get along with each other, you've got big trouble.

    As a manager, you really need to be able to read people so you can select team members with not only the required skills and experience, but also the right balance of personality traits. There is no script for this however... you either have it, or you acquire this skill as you develop (and make mistakes in the process).

    The manager I work for is fabulous. He knows how to assemble a team that is truly a cohesive unit... we all work extremely well together, and we all get along like good friends. He also recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of each individual and lets them know he appreciates their efforts.

    One thing that drives me mad is management that is afraid to take corrective action with a "problem" employee. It's usually a younger manager, but not always. One of our remote sites had a "problem" employee, and rather than trying to figure out why he was a "problem," they reassigned him to another location working on something he had no knowledge of. So now we had an employee with low morale, who had to be trained on something he really didn't want to work on, at a location he wasn't happy working at - pile on more morale degradation. Then the original site, found themselves in a bind and transferred said employee back to their site to work at some meanial job on graveyard shift. The employee ended up quitting (surprise, surprise) and is now telling everyone why they should not work for this organization - and I can't blame him one bit.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    In ours when we interview for a position, whether we think we can work with them is a very important consideration.

    Part of the responsibility, matey boy has been preaching on about.

    A manager is external to a team, he can say I think Fred's a good guy, but if we think he's a wanker it's never going to work.

    As for your problem child that's standard management training.

    Guide To Management

    One, Never make a decision

    Two, If you have to, create a steering committee to spread the blame.

    Three, when you do have a scapegoat pre-prepared in case you screwed up again.

    Four, If all else fails, let the MD win at golf.

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    BlueKnight

    We certainly don't want any wankers on the team. Thankfully, the members of our team get to screen resumes as well as participate in the interview and selection process... unusual for this place; but then, our team happens to be the ONLY team that comes in on time and within budget and we do it consistently.

    Your comments on management are all too true. I've seen way too many managers at the extremes... some micro-manage, but more frequently we see those who practice M.B.D.N. (management by doing nothing). The decision making process generally consists of calling a meeting, then polling the attendees for their ideas/feedback then the most "popular" idea becomes the manager's decision. That, of course, fulfills rule #1 and part of #2, and sets up the meeting attendees as potential scapegoats for #3.

    I guess my approach to management was all wrong. I never had any problem making decisions, though there are some that one wishes wouldn't have to be made. If a decision turned out not to be so good, I took the hit for my own decision. When I was credited for doing such a good job on something, I always made sure to give the credit to those who worked for me... they did the work, not me.

    Too bad there weren't any "good" role models for me... maybe I coulda learned MBDN -- NOT!
    Way too late now.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    A good employee in management or not, will say oops, correct it and not do it again.

    A bad one will look for someone else to blame and then attempt never to be seen to make one again.

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    jkameleon

    At repetitive, assembly line type of work, any morale, that does not include monkeywrenching is high enough. It's no problem to maintain it anyhow. Knowledge is the power, and managers typically know more about the work being done than workers being managed. They either have more education, or more experience ( the ones promoted into management after certain amount of time on the job).

    In IT, however, the opposite is usually the case. Workers are far more knowleadgeable than their bosses, who studied management, not mathematics, science or technology. To make the matters worse, there is no place for repetitive work in IT. That's what computers do, not people. Most of the IT work involves problem solving of some kind. ?What Gets Measured Gets Done?, says the traditional manegerial wisdom, but alas, the problem solving work is utterly immeasureable. The only way of getting things done in such line of work is at least minimum amount of ... ummm... well... not quite morale, but integrity and mutual trust. Employees should willingly devote some of ther their creativity and brain cells to the job. Employers should restrain themselves from squeezing too much profit out of employees while providing some sort of job stability.

    In the long years I've spent in this profession, I've seen this trust violated many, many times, from both sides. Around the 90s, however, violations from the employer's side became systematic. MAD, management fads, in a word: dilbertization.

    Honesty, goodwill, and trust are like mineral oil. Once it's pumped out, turned into cash and burned, it's gone. The only thing you can do about it is to wait a couple of billions of years until it forms again. In the meantime, you'll just have to live without it.

    I've taken a look at your website, and from what I can tell, it's just another BS commercial for another BS motivation manual. The only way of finding out what's in there is to buy it, which I'm not going to do. I presume, it's the usual motivational stuff, so let me comment on that.

    * Commendations: Unless they are accompanied by some sort of cash incentive, they are worse than nothing. IT worker must measure his/hers output carefully. Grumbling boss means that the tempo and quality of work is just about right. Fuming boss means I should quicken the pace a little, if I want to keep that shitty job of mine. Smiling and laudatory boss means I blew it. My workload is about to increase, and I will be left without the precious buffer time necessary for solving the occasional tougher, time consuming problems.

    * Talking: Dont. It's getting on my nerves.

    * Listening: Don't bother, I got nothing to tell.

    * More esotheric methods of motivation: Don't even try it, I've seen them all.

    * Education & training, the real stuff: Sooo, looks like you expect me to stick around for a while eh? Well, OK, I appreciate that.

    * Education & training, infomercial style: Sooo, you are trying to get away cheaply, do you. **** you!

    * Money: Now that's something that keeps me fully motivated. So, quit monkeying around, and untie your purse. Don't waste your money on some BS motivation manuals and stuff, better give it to me.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    motivation is based on financial reward?

    Where's the profit in that?

    What's we've seen over that last decade and a half cost cutting. It's that simple, treat an employee as a cost, morale is in the bucket.

    Attempting to keep employees happy in a cost cutting environment, waste of money.

    I agree with you, spend the money taking them out for a beer and pizza.

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    jkameleon

    > I agree with you, spend the money taking them out for a beer and pizza.

    Or, better yet, give the beer and pizza money to me, and let me spend it the way I want.

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    bsnsimo

    A few thoughts in response.

    As for IT versus all others, having managed both I found no real difference except that IT and electrons always thought they were special. I have never seen the case that management knew more about the work than the worker level. Of course, management acts as if they do which is a root cause of low morale.

    Thanks for taking a look at my website and I certainly cannot blame you for your conclusion that I am just another motivation hype type. Most management books are crap and not helpful.

    Having managed people for over 30 years, I did a lot of searching for good advice in books. Most writers, so-called gurus, spent their entire career writing books and consulting.

    Peter Drucker wrote over 20 books on the subject, never solved the problem, but made a huge amount of money presenting the latest fad. Tom Peters was honest enough to admit in his fourth book that if you had followed what he said in his first three books you would not be better off.

    These books provide lots of whats, no whys and almost no how tos. The vast majority were written by people who have no experience managing people.

    My book relates all the whats, whys and how tos of managing people, from soup to nuts, from a precise expose of what leadership is and is not and why, to the precise actions to take and even what to say and not say in order to create highly motivated employees, to the precise actions to take to resolve personality conflicts and negative attitudes, to correcting stress.

    These are all easy to learn and easy to execute, but do require considerable effort. I used these, had not yet written them down in book form, to train my subordinate managers and turn them all into exceptional managers of people. These methods were proven in the heat of battle as I successfully turned around four management disasters including a nuclear-powered cruiser and a 1300 person unionized group in New York City.

    The payoff to doing it right, the difference between poorly motivated and highly motivated people is on the order of 300-500% in productivity. The 500% number comes from Stephen Covey, another guru but one I respect, and the at least 300% from my personal experience in turnarounds. The change in each case amazed onlookers, but was generally met with disbelief.

    I don't blame you for being skeptical. Read the comments about my book on Amazon. I would like to send you a pdf copy by email if you would be interested in reading it.

    Thanks again for commenting.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    jkameleon

    > As for IT versus all others, having managed both I found no real difference except that IT and electrons always thought they were special.

    I imagine we are special because our work mostly consists of problem solving. Consequently, all goading attempts are bound to backfire, often in very subtle ways.

    Problem solving nature of IT work means, that there is no accurate metrics. Deadlines, the most essential spurring tool, are consequently impossible to determine in a fair manner. I've done a lot of bickering with project leaders and similar types about this, but they strictly adhere to what's written in their textbooks. They claim, that a person, experienced enough in software development, can estimate task times precisely. IMHO, only routine tasks are predictable. If it's routine, it can be done by computer, therefore it's superfluous. IOW, you can predict only duration of reinventing the wheel- development tasks you don't really need to be done.


    > Having managed people for over 30 years, I did a lot of searching for good advice in books. Most writers, so-called gurus, spent their entire career writing books and consulting.
    >
    > Peter Drucker wrote over 20 books on the subject, never solved the problem, but made a huge amount of money presenting the latest fad. Tom Peters was honest enough to admit in his fourth book that if you had followed what he said in his first three books you would not be better off.

    Oh, my! :) That's exactly like software engineering. There are thousands of books written about it, about the size of two bricks each, written by about as many gurus. They all look awesomely wise on the cover pictures, these gurus, because they are holding their chins betwixt their index fingers and thumbs. Unfortunately, guys who are good at writing books, usually have no idea about developing software, and the other way round. Guys who are good at expressing themselves in computer language, are very poor at writing in natural language. Consequently, most books on software development are more or less detached from reality.


    > These are all easy to learn and easy to execute, but do require considerable effort.

    Yea, effort is always the key. No manners, no matter how sophisticated, can substitute it.

    Combined with cost cutting, downsizing, and such, however, such effort can only make things worse. Cost cutting means writing the morale off, plain and simple. After years of quarterly bottom line oriented management, everything is down to cold, hard cash. Since Enron, even the company stock options are no longer an option, at least as far as I'm concerned.


    > The payoff to doing it right, the difference between poorly motivated and highly motivated people is on the order of 300-500% in productivity. The 500% number comes from Stephen Covey, another guru but one I respect, and the at least 300% from my personal experience in turnarounds. The change in each case amazed onlookers, but was generally met with disbelief.

    In software development, these differences are typically higher, 1000% and more, but nobody, including lower & middle management seems to be very comfortable with such pace. They prefer to keep it on about 10% of what's possible. The reason is, that the course of software development is very irregular and unpredictable, and that's something typical manager does not want to deal with. That's why everybody keeps it throttled down, to maintain the illusion of predictability.

    IT does not correct the faults of bureaucracy it serves. It can only amplify them. The same factors, that drive down efficiency of bureaucracy, drive down productivity of it's IT as well. The same logic, that makes bureaucracy bloat, produces bloated software as well. As far as I know, there is no antidote to that.


    > I would like to send you a pdf copy by email if you would be interested in reading it.

    My username is my email at yahoo.com . I haven't figured out how to change it yet. Anyway, if you think you could find my worm's eye-view observations useful, send pdf to jkameleon@yahoo.com, and I'll gladly take a look at it.

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    bsnsimo

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Is the 1000% number a one person or a few people number or is that achievable across a large group? My 300%+ was per person averaged across about 800 workers achieved over a 4 year period.

    Sorry to hear that your software books are so bad. And the terms irregular and unpredictable would certainly apply to a lot work associated with overhauling huge steam turbines or fixing nuclear reactor problems. Everything appears different but is mostly the same.

    I will send the book.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    jkameleon

    Looks interesting, at a first glance. I'll go through it, and reply to you by email.

    > And the terms irregular and unpredictable would certainly apply to a lot work associated with overhauling huge steam turbines or fixing nuclear reactor problems.

    Large machinery is a hard core engineering. Errors are very costly here. Consequently, everything must be meticulously planned, and every eventuality predicted.

    In software development, there is entirely different situation. Program you are writing is tested over and over again. You write a couple of lines of code, and test the whole thing. Fix a couple of things, and test. Add a couple of things, and test. Sometimes you deliberately make an error, to see how roboust the rest of the program is. It's like disassembling a turbine or nuclear reactor, tinkering with it a little, and assembling it again about a ten times per hour. Classical engineering methods and mentality are eventually applicable only on the topmost level of very large software project. On the bottom, they are totally counterproductive.

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    bsnsimo

    very familiar to me. I was the sponsor for a few years of the effort to develop the Aegis system and its software programs. At the same time, I was a co-sponsor of the Tomhawk land attack program. The software development processes were not unlike designing a new nuclear reactor core.

    I am unfamiliar with the term classical engineering methods. Engineering methods must suit the work and not vice versa. There is no one size fits all.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    troisj

    Thanks Ben for sending Kameleon your book for free - I just bought it at your site - speaking about motivational tools - in this case of your clients LOL

    So, a bit of ranting ("BS, management fad") will make you give away your book....
    Ok, here goes: your website @#!%!, but I (SPAM removed by author)

    Other than that: I think your book is too cheap (although I haven't read it yet). Compared to all the 'guru-bibles', which are compulsory textbooks at universities all over the world, it should be priced at least at same level.

    Kameleon: I'm interested in your review of the book.

    About corporate culture: I think most of the present poor performance is related to a few things:
    1) Short-term goals - shareholders are king;
    2) 'Followers' in management - everybody follows each other only to blend in and not to stand out (ever wondered why golf became so popular?) - and to keep the ranks closed;
    3) Lack of personalities in management (no 'leaders') - only busy with their own survival (and corporate golf, 'of course');
    4) Lousy education: it's all about management theory and principles; 'listening to the floor' is either old-fashioned, too simplistic or just 'not done'. Or all three of them;
    5) Greed in highest ranks: lay-offs, yet bonuses go up.

    Obviously, there is more. Much more. Workers' attitude, regulations, political correctness, stupid unions: it all adds up. The results we know...

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    bsnsimo

    And I concur that my website needs work. I have a person doing exactly that at present. I produced the website from scratch and that shows how dangerous a twice-retired nuclear engineer manager can be with a website. Thanks for your offer.

    The book is priced to recover my costs and no more. I am trying to make knowledge available that most managers need. I am not trying to make a living at this, only to help active managers.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://bensimonton.com

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    Falconeer

    If I were to ?put on? my thinking cap I could not find a better reply? Woops!! Don?t have a thinking cap any more.

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    shardeth-15902278

    Higher motivation means higher quality work (fewer defects, safer products... all that good stuff).

    IT or Not, the people actually doing the work, tend to know more than there managers. Unfortuantely, IT or Not, managers, tend to think they are smarter or more important than the people they manage.

    You are right though. Management FADs, whether based on sound principles or not, don't work. Not unless those sound principles are internalized, at all levels.

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    wookie2u

    I reckon the IT industry is a "special case" in one respect. It's populated by intoverts.

    That's why good techies make bad managers, more often than not.

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    bsnsimo

    anyone can learn how to manage people and be an exceptional manager of people. Personality makes no difference. If the person wants to become a truly effective manager, I can make him/her into one with a reasonable amount of coaching. The actions one must learn and practice are easy to understand and easy to execute.

    I admit that conventional wisdom and conventional approaches won't be successful and always cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

    If anyone wants to learn, I am willing to help.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    is that they can find their *** without a rear view mirror and two helpers giving directions.

    Anyone can learn to do anything, being what I'd call exceptional is limited to those with a talent.

    You can learn ways of avoiding obvious errors, managing by numbers as it were, you can't learn to be exceptional though. You either are or you aren't.

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    bsnsimo

    By exceptional I mean that they become more effective than over 90% of all managers. I admit that standard is rather low, but still it means they are far better than most. Their people became far more productive and motivated than perhaps 95% of all people.

    I admit that is hard to believe, but it is true nonetheless.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    I'm an IT professional I'm easy to motivate. I enjoy my job.
    Most management gurus aren't talking motivation, they are talking off setting de-motivation.

    You are such a valued member of the team Tony, if you take a pay cut we'll let you stay.

    Oh thankee kind sir, says the peon doffing his cheap *** threadbare hat.

    I'm doing this for me, just like you do it for you. I don't censure you for looking after your own ***, don't censure me for looking after mine.

    That you value your *** more than you do mine is expected, expecting me to value your *** more than mine, is just plain stupid.

    What you can do with your people to get on. Wrong ! What we can do together for all of us , RIGHT. Fooling people into following you is not leadership, when you get found out, you'll be stabbed in the back.

    That's my leadership in a nutshell talk.

    Are you worried ?

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    bsnsimo

    The only solution is to remove all demotivators, all obstacles to better performance.

    In order to be do this, managers must put the needs of their people first, before their own needs. Workforce members are always more important than their bosses because they are the ones who actually do the work.

    Bosses are only there to support the workforce. Bosses are the earth which rotates around the workers who are the sun. Without the heat of the sun, bosses die. This is a basic truth to management.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Tony Hopkinson

    A lot of managers would though.
    I always try to remember a manager is just a worker with a different set of responsibilities, it's the split in perceived value that starts off the demotivation.

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    tommy higbee

    This is probably one of the central insights management really needs: to remember that they're not the ones doing the "real" work, and their role is to help those who are doing the real work.

    In other words, learn to respect the "managed", because they're the ones doing the actual work that you'll get credit for.

    This goes hand-in-hand with the other key: that most of the "managed" actually WANT to do a good job, if only they could have the resources they need to do it. Which is where management comes in.

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    jdmercha

    TRUST!

    Show me an employee who is trusted to do there job, and I'll show you a happy, motivated employee.

    There are many theories on manageing people. And I'm sure yours works just fine. But you need to take them all with a grain of salt. For one thing, managment consutlants are hired to fix poor mangement. Any theory, properly applied will show positive results.

    But changing management styles in a company that is working just fine, can often have the opposite affect. Change for the sake of change is a waste of time and can be detrimental to morale.

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    bsnsimo

    I agree.

    And how are things in my birth city? Was raised in Cazenovia on the lake. Loved it.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    jdmercha

    I guess nothing has changed. I'm looking to get out of here and move down to FL also.

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    jvdmerwe

    Can I say one thing that is not the be all and end all. In management you get 2 kinds of managers....... one who leads with respect and the other with fear. I agree with parts of your post but trust is only a part of it, your style detemines the morale levels. Another thing what about personality clashes between employee and manager?????? there is no answer to that and morale will always be low and trust me I'm in that situation now.

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    bsnsimo

    if you are the boss. I agree that they are very damaging to morale. I have been able to correct each and every one thus restoring morale.

    I am willing to provide my solution and coach you to success in using it every step of the way if you so desire.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    Zen37

    I find that managers more than management is the problem.

    Now i can only talk in the IT field since I've never been in others, but in our field, EGO is big. You just need to read some posts in these forums to see some pretty big ones. I personally believe that ego is detrimental to good management and in IT, it is too often present.

    Take the managers who manage upwards instead of downwards. Their objectives are self centered instead of being company centered. It is very difficult to work for these individuals and i see more and more of them out there.

    Take the "know-it-alls" out there. Managers that seem to think they have all the answers to all the problems without having to consult anyone. If they are so good, why aren't they the only employee in the group? Again, it's difficult to work for those and there are a lot of them out there.

    Money is a good short term means of boosting moral. But is our cost cutting minimalist world we live in, it's getting tougher and tougher to get. One solution to that is performance bonuses. But performance measurement in IT is so difficult, the only real measurement you can do is cost. Cut cost and you will save money. That will increase the bosses bonuses but not the employees. Which makes the bosses happy.

    I personally believe that a happy employee is one that is trusted in doing his work properly, one that is not entirely overworked, but does not find much "downtime" either. One that has some form of job security and appreciation. One who might not always be listen to, but will always be heard. One who is a valued member of a team, not the scapegoat.

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    bsnsimo

    Ego is the enemy of humility and without humility there is no way to allow people to develop that strong sense of ownership prerequisite to superior performance. Have you ever caught someone washing rental car? They last about 2 years while a car owned by a person will last 10, 20 and even more years.

    Trust is a workplace lubricant and is also prerequisite to superior performance. The easiest way to resolve that is to equip employees with any knowledge or info they want and turn over the workplace to them such that there is nothing for them to distrust.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    willjamr

    "Have you ever caught someone washing rental car? They last about 2 years while a car owned by a person will last 10, 20 and even more years."

    I believe that the rental companies wash their cars frequently, if not every time they are returned. They are sold after a year or two, not scrapped.

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    neilb@uk

    Or is this just interactive spam?

    Follow the money...

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    michael.mulvihill

    All replies seem to point back to the book with no real answers. Selling services/advice on here isn't necessarily a bad thing but there should be at least some helpful snippits.

    In fact I've developed a model for TechRepublic forum advertising and it's all in my new book. Please send check or money order .....

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    neilb@uk

    to see if he'd actually SAY something other than how he could "help" if you bought his book or services. If he'd just push off - stop answering every post with another puff for himself - it could probably develop into a reasonable thread.

    I make my money by selling bridges. I have a cracker for sale right now! Look really nice scross the Intracoastal Waterway! http://tinyurl.com/yxboks

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    bsnsimo

    My services are provided to anyone who needs them and whether they pay or not is up to them.

    If anyone wants my book and cannot afford it I will send them a free copy.

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com

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    neilb@uk

    I merely invited comment from fellow peers as to whether the starting post of this thread fitted the definition for the spam that occasionally affects this site. I gave you the benefit of the doubt for a few dozen posts.

    Trust me in this. Had I been offended, the tone of my post would have been very different and would have been accompanied by a request to the TR PTB to pull the thread.

    I still see no reason to change my stance. Perhaps purchasing an advert on TR or submitting an article containing real information would be a more appropriate way to approach the site members.

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    keith.j.kunz

    Employees are generally smart enough to understand that if you get a 5% raise for working your heart out and if (real) inflation is 4% for that year, you basically worked your heart out for nothing!

    Oh yes, and in addition to the 5% there wasn't even an 'attaboy' or 'attagirl' to go with it. Most of us have bills to pay and a $300 per month gas bill just to keep our families at 72 during the day and 65 at night.

    Bottom line: Be sure you are working for someone who is making money, lots of it!

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    dougbrong

    I've been a Computer Scientist for 35 long years. After about 5 years, I realized that I had to work for myself. I didn't go to college for 7 years to sit in a cubicle, and take 'direction' from some manager who used to sell kitchen appliances. Also what's the fun of sitting at your desk all day?

    IMO, creative, thoughful, energetic people are never going to be satisfied with any wage job.

    The other problem is money. The sales / marketing / and management get the perks, while the engineers get 4% raises.

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    jefferyp2100

    Management and leadership are distinctly different. You manage things -- schedules, assignments, parking spaces but lead people.

    The biggest problem in the technical field is that too many managers were promoted into those positions because they were no good at their technical jobs. The worst managers are clueless about why they were promoted and insist on micromanaging their people. Should a failed programming really be the person to tell good programmers how to do their work?

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    bsnsimo

    You are quite right that the only way to manage people is through leadership.

    If you would like to read an article on that subject, go to
    http://www.bensimonton.com/Leadership,%20the%20only%20way%20to%20manage%20people.htm

    Best regards, Ben
    http://www.bensimonton.com