Dr. Dewett returns as a member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Dr. Dewett is a leadership expert and professor at Wright State University, author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and Harley nut. His job is developing and inspiring people in organizations. He accomplishes this by combining a massive dose of energy with world class knowledge to deliver a message that brings leadership to life. Full Bio…
Sometimes the Obvious is Right in Front of You
by Dr. Todd Dewett
Many things we do at work are assumed to be sacrosanct – simple, unquestionable truths. In reality, many best practices (things we should do) are the opposite of the commonly accepted wisdom (things we are actually doing)! Sometimes this is true because established practices have so much inertia. Other times this is true because people are afraid to face the conflict associated with discussing sacred cows. Sometimes we simply fail to consider our changing needs. Here are three great examples of fundamentally flawed – yet very common – organizational practices.
Employee recognition and reward programs. The punch line: we reward too much. In an effort to “be fair” and do nice things for others, we have created work environments where everyone, or nearly everyone, is recognized as Employee of the Month. Cubes are covered by laser printer created certificates. Unfortunately, this merely creates a culture of entitlement – a place where people expect to be rewarded for being average. To become a high performing organization you must rediscover and redefine excellence, and begin rewarding a little less.
The use of teams. Punch line: they are often ineffective and we underestimate the overhead costs. We fell in love with the team decades ago. We were told that for any task, we could build a team to handle it. We were not, however, told that teams have drawbacks. For example: teams must coordinate and have meetings, teams experience interpersonal conflict, and teams promote laziness from some members. A highly functioning team is a thing of beauty, but most teams are mediocre. It is smart to use fewer teams and smaller teams. For teams that must exist, try using individual work and electronic coordination more than group work in meetings.
The hiring process. Punch line: it is not smart to hire people without trying them out first. Would you marry a person when you first meet them? How about the first week? No! Hiring someone is often just as risky as getting married and sometimes even more difficult to undo! When you first meet your new prospective employee, they are managing impressions and you are managing impressions – just like a marriage! Only after a few months will you have the honest data upon which you can make a lasting decision. Start every employee on probation for at least six months and defer judgment until the end of that period.
Striving for excellence is difficult. Give you and your organization the edge by taking the time to reexamine the fundamental beliefs that surround you every day.