30 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Managing for Results

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In a challenging economic environment like ours, the only way to ensure the continued viability of companies is to focus on performance and reward it accordingly.

What should be on the minds of executives is how they can effectively measure and manage performance at all levels within their organisations. More and more organisations are implementing performance incentive schemes for their staff and these companies have already started seeing a turnaround in their performance. The only way to guarantee future success is to focus on issues of performance and rewards. However, many companies often miss it in that it is not only rewarding performance that is important but effectively managing it. As a manager, you need to motivate your team to get things done. Motivation is beyond remuneration or handsome incentives. As a manager you need to bond with your staff. You also need to develop relationships that inspire employees to get involved and do more.

Many organisations these days have mercenaries. Their employees are there just because they want to be paid at the end of the month. Performance in this case is driven by the fact that the employee wants to make "ends meet." When you ask these employees how work is like, there are really upfront and tell you, "I hate my job!" Whilst there may be many other reasons why employees grow to hate their job yet still do it, a primary reason is a poor subordinate - boss relationship. Very few managers have the requisite people skills needed to effectively manage their subordinates for performance. This only makes sense because very few managers have been trained to do so. Many managers have been taught to manage by objectives and metrics to monitor performance, and they have this misconception that bonding with your team members will be seen as a distraction at best or weakness at worst.

Leaders should develop personal relationships with their subordinates. The productive manager is less like a football coach with a whistle around his neck and more like a belayer helping climbers reach the next goal. While it is true that companies with abundant resources can afford to use fear as a motivator and absorb the cost of more frequent hirings and firings, this approach frequently ends up with a demoralised workforce, high staff turnover and poor service delivery.

Many employees are emotional hostages to their work places. They are hostages to emotions such as anxiety, fear and ambition. This negatively impacts on performance. George Kohlrieser (George Kohlrieser, 2001), argues that to escape from these emotional hostage situations, each employee needs a secure base - a person, place, goal or object that provides a place of protection, gives a sense of comfort, and a source of energy. This is where managers are most important.

As a manager, you are there to motivate people to respond to the changing goals and circumstances. You define and direct what needs to be done and you inspire employees to accomplish that. Too often,your subordinatesdo not give you the results you want because there is no relationship between you, the manager, and the employee. An example would be employees' response to change. Employees do not resist change itself, rather the pain of change and the fear of the unknown that comes with it. As a result, employees think more defensively, they hold back and resist pursuing success and playing to win. In the workplace, leaders who show concern and interest in their employees' lives and have a predictable set of rules, create a healthy attachment that empowers others to embrace the risk of pursuing success.

Employees want to be cared for. They want to feel that their manager genuinely has their interests at heart. Effectively managing for performance will require that managers move beyond simply giving instructions and demanding results. I am not suggesting that managers should act as "caregivers" or "parents"; rather that these insights help managers work with people's strengths and tendencies, rather than against them. Isolating an employee with authoritative demands and intimidation triggers a sense of isolation, threat, and fear. Then the brain slams the brakes on the ability to takeinitiative and makes it harder for people to think productively.

Behavioural psychology teaches us that humans will behave more favourable to crisis situations if they feel they have support. Strongly subordinate superior bonds can help teams survive and thrive in crisis situations. In the same light, a thing that managers often miss is that employees will respond more favourably to a rebuke, for example, where they feel that there is a positive relationship between you and them. When you look at it, developing relationships is also psychologically rewarding to those who give it, generating a sense of reward and connection.

Memory Nguwi is the Managing Consultant of Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or cell number 077 2356 361 or email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.comor visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

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