14. Dec, 2014



I once read a statement, “He harms the good that spares the bad.”  Since then I have been wondering about developing an article around that idea.

Most of us like to work for an easygoing and tolerant manager in contrast to a dictatorial and an authoritarian one.  Of course, we like to feel we are doing our best because we want to and not because we are forced to.

However, just as it is possible to be too commanding, it is also possible to go too far in the other direction. The leader who overlooks too much is really ducking the job of leadership. On the other hand, unfortunately, there will always be people who will take advantage of the situation because they would do only what is necessary to get by. The minute the boss turns his back they start loafing.

The leader who deliberately ignores this is in effect condoning their actions. This in itself would be serious enough but the real danger is even greater. It will harm those who are trying to do a good job. I think that the people who do not take advantage and have a sense of responsibility and duty can be demoralized by such a lack of leadership.

I guess that there are a few things that we can safely do to ensure that we do not fall into such an awkward situation.

First, let us set clear-cut standards of conduct and responsibility. All our people should know exactly what is expected of them and all should be judged against the same set of values.

Second, we should try not to spare the bad apples in our group. We as leaders and managers should have the courage of our conviction and guts to correct the situation before it contaminates our entire organization.

Third, we should always adequately reward the good people. Rewards to those who deserve them serve to maintain their morale and enthusiasm. They also let those who are loafing know where they stand too.

But are we worried about the people who intend to leave their jobs for either this or other reasons? I think that the people leaving their jobs for any reason are no longer outdated. Either often it is for a better opportunity elsewhere or more money. Even with the lure of more pay, people who are reasonably content with their work and their supervisors seldom go out looking for other jobs.

Some managers have a higher turnover among their subordinates than others do, sometimes embarrassingly so and often, it is the better people who leave. This is always a costly and frustrating problem.

Sometimes, obviously, people have been offered opportunities or salaries that are so extraordinary we could not possibly have matched them anyway. All we could have done in any case is let them go and wish them good luck. But do not be too sure and before we let ourselves off the hook let us pose a few questions and try to answer them as honestly as we can.

  • Did we let those exiting people know how important they were to us and to the organization? Alternatively, did we more or less take them for granted?
  • Did we give them a chance to be proud of themselves? Did we pass along all the authority we possibly could or keep them tied to our apron strings?
  • Did we give these people and get for them the credit and recognition they deserved from us and from others in the organization?  Or did we tend to leave them in the shadows?
  • Was the job of the departing employee a challenge? Did we do our best to make it so?
  • Did we make their work as varied and interesting as possible? Did we show them the possibilities of a promising future? Or did we simply left them in a rut and exploited their abilities to our own advantage?

Let us not be too quick to absolve ourselves from all blames. If we were responsible, in any respect, it is smarter to realize it than to hide our head in the sand. Unless we change our attitude or actions, we may lose more than just good people. We may be on the verge of destroying our own organization or our career as well.

Therefore, I feel that the best time to think of all these things is before we begin to lose our good people rather than after. Remember that people have the right to judge us more by what we do than by what we say.

I have always maintained that managing people is difficult and time-consuming work, done best by kindness, watching, warning, patience, praise and above all by example. Any person in a management or supervisory position is basically a salesperson. Therefore, it is our job to sell good attitudes and effective work habits. If we do not practice them ourselves, it is harder sale to make and sometimes even impossible.

Good executives appreciate that the power of a good example is one of the most effective tools. They know that their people are watching them as they go about their daily work and that their own example will influence those people far more than verbal advice or preaching.

Some people feel that when they have reached an executive level they are no longer subject to the same standards they expect of others. They think it is their job to tell people what to do, regardless of whether they do it themselves or not. But if they do not believe in something strongly enough to practice it themselves, the telling seldom does much good.

The strengths and weaknesses of a particular department or organization often reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the men and women who manage it. When we have difficulty getting people who work for us to measure up to the standards we insist upon, then it is time for for us to take a second look at ourselves.

Do we measure up to these standards? Are we practicing them whole-heartedly in our own work, or just preaching for the benefit of others?

Another serious question to pose here is obvious. If we habitually let down and take it easy when our own manager is away, how can we expect our own people to act any differently when we are not around? If we are usually late ourselves, how can we expect others to be on time? The words will go in one ear and out the other.

During my school days, I was told that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Therefore, if we want to be an effective leader, we would better believe that because it is the way we people are made. If  we want them to buy something let us be sure we are ready to buy it ourselves first.

I have not abandoned my idea of the choice between being a developer of our human resource and the terminator of people who do not perform well in our organization. If we decide not to dismiss then a thorough training and development program needs to be implemented. This intervention has to be carefully planed.

In any matter of people management, let us never underestimate the importance of a good example because I strongly feel that ‘Seeing is Believing’.