Policies can unintentionally keep people from thinking

Policies established to create order often unintentionally keep people from thinking.

“Let’s face it: corporate environments and modern organizations are the perfect setup for diminishing leadership and you have a certain built-in tyranny. The org charts, the hierarchy, the titles, the approval matrixes skew power toward the top and create incentives for people to shut down and comply. In any hierarchical organization the playing field is rarely level. The senior leaders stand on the high side of the field and ideas and policies roll easily down to the lower side. Policies established to create order often unintentionally keep people from thinking. At best, these policies limit intellectual range of motion as they straight jacket the thinking of the followers. At worst, these systems shut down thinking entirely.”

Liz Wiseman, Greg McKeown, multipliers Chapter 4, 2m 16s

Having an Employee Performance Metrics Policy

About two years ago, pondering some of my new managerly duties, I wondered, “How do you rank employees?”

Every year I have to rank employees and make tough decisions: Should we extend that internship? Should we promote that developer? How will we distribute raises?

I can’t manage based on my gut. It’s not enough to feel good or icky about someone. What then are the alternatives?

Near the top of the list is metrics. Measure the output—somehow—and use that to decide this employee deserves a raise and this one needs a performance plan. The rest of this post is the document I use to introduce my employees to my position on measuring performance.

Continue reading Having an Employee Performance Metrics Policy

Having an Open Door Policy

When you become a new manager you might want to say to your folks, “Hey, my door is always open.”

Then shoot them a crooked smile with your finger gun.

I know I did.

In the spirit of over-thinking everything I went further and posted a formal open-door policy.  As with many of my ideas, this one started its life in a Manager Tools Podcast on Open Door Policies.

Continue reading Having an Open Door Policy

Everything I Do Doesn’t Have To Be My Idea

I want to take advantage of others’ experiences. But isn’t it phony for me to use some technique I read about in a business blog?

For example, I might come across a podcast at Manager Tools that talks about how to give feedback.  The podcast tells me rules to follow, words to say, and how to behave. If I do this, then aren’t I a phony?

Yeah, no. Maybe this concern doesn’t even make sense to you. It was a real one for me.  I’m still recovering from some of the bad stereotypes that some software types foster.

Continue reading Everything I Do Doesn’t Have To Be My Idea