An article (Doing more with less has a price – Canada.com) in the Vancouver Sun 20 Feb., 2012 titled “Doing more with less has a price” by Bruce Johnstone raises a number of significant talent management (TM) issues:
- Just focussing on “squeezing” more effort out of people has limited benefits to achieving organizational success.
- We should focus more on helping people work more effectively and efficiently.
- Focusing just on motivation has limited benefits.
- Frustration is the “silent epidemic” that saps organizations of their best employees and is a silent killer of productivity and motivation.
I have touched on these points in one form or other in previous posts some of these are: Talent Management: How Not to do Performance Management, Talent Management: Revisiting Workforce Engagement, Talent Management: Is Employee Morale Irrelevant?, Performance Management: Push or Pull Incentives, which do you rely on?, Talent Management: Too Much Great Performance?, Talent management: Managing less, getting more out of your Critical talent?, Talent Management: Knowing how to get a “Better Best” from your Talent in the Future, Talent Management: Balancing Performance Pressures.
A long time ago, I believe that I read that Peter Drucker said: “It is the role of leadership to get extraordinary results out of ordinary people”. This quote (whomever said it first) is key to this article’s thesis. The article touches on the opinion that organizations have reservoirs of untapped talent within their walls right now in the fourth point above.
We often mistake that the opposite of “love” is “hate” it is not, rather it is indifference. Hate is felt by someone who cares but is deeply hurt by some circumstance. The hater still cares. It is the person in the organization who has given up that is the scary circumstance. At best we get compliance and enough effort/contribution to just get by.
So when I read about “frustration”, which are we looking at: the indifferent or the angered? The strategies for dealing with each situation is different.
Dealing with anger sourced frustration involves some form of restitution, patience and trust building. Dealing with indifference is much harder. In one sense you have to get the indifferent back into the emotional feeling zone first before you can make any further progress.
The role of leadership and how that leadership chooses to manage people (through its preferred forms of control, support in doing good [let alone great] work, sense of fairness in recognizing effort and contribution, whether it sees people as people or inanimate inputs, etc.) is what makes the difference. Organizations enable performance by how they design roles, provide applicable support (involves providing what’s needed and removing barriers to success). People in roles I believe are fundamentally responsible for their own motivation this is why they can move to anger, frustration, engagement, etc.
I have pointed out to my clients how their own behaviours (too many priorities, using contrived budgets to limit useful support, interrupting, etc.) have made it very difficult for their direct/indirect reports to perform well.
That talent is poorly utilized is squarely a leadership commentary on their own performance. Leaders/managers are ultimately responsible for the utilization of all resources they gather. I believe the argument that we need to focus on employee engagement is blaming the wrong performer target. There is an old adage in labour relations: “You get the union relationships you deserve”. I suggest an organization’s leaders get the level of engagement they deserve too. This is why I appreciate the article’s suggestion that we have to focus on “enablement” which is key role of leadership.