I recently re-read an article from Bloomberg Businessweek, Five Ways to Ensure Mediocrity in Your Organization, by Liz Ryan. This article resonates with me every time I read it because the article focuses on some supervisor’s disregard for their employees. This disregard can create a revolving door of turnover within an organization. Student Affairs is a great career that will prove a worthwhile experience for many; however, it’s important as a new professional to be workplace savvy and trust your instincts.
According to Ryan, the five ways to ensure mediocrity are:
1. “…Make sure your employees know you don’t trust them.” Basically, supervisors hire a competent employee and then micromanage the employee. What’s the point of hiring talented people when you don’t trust them? Once a new professional gets the impression that management does not trust their work, an employee will shut down and give an organization mediocre work.
2. “…don’t tell them when they shine.” Paychecks are great incentive, but some times praise will go a long way to build morale. Lack of praise will also damage morale. Employees want to feel appreciated, valued and empowered. Ryan suggests that lack of praise from supervisors could be because managers fear a request for a raise or promotion. Employees understand that many institutions are feeling the budget crunch, but kindness goes a long way to build loyalty to an organization.
3. “…keep employees in the dark.” How can employees be invested in the organization if they do not have a seat at the table? Ok, ok…if not a seat at the table, employees should at least be regularly informed on new initiatives and programs. I believe employees should be aware of the organization’s mission, goals, and values at all times; this helps provide focus to your work and it becomes more intentional.
4. “If you value docility over ingenuity…” The most precious gift you can give an employee is autonomy and responsibility. Micromanaging could potentially drive a professional with a masters degree slightly insane. Like Ryan, I agree, employees who are treated like children will more than likely seek out an employer who trusts and empowers them and treats a supervisor like a professional with and advanced degree.
5. “If you fear an empowered workforce more than you fear the competition, squash any sign of individualism.” Young whippersnappers beware, don’t rely on your education and experience to challenge the system. Knowledge is power, but not in an organization that prefers mindless minions. In reference to management shaking down it’s employees Ryan states, “They do it by instituting reams of pointless rules, upbraiding people for minuscule infractions and generally replacing trust with fear throughout their organizations.”
I agree with Ryan that poor management will only rappel good employees. Once managers begin to realize why they are losing solid, competent employees, you may be settling into a new job.
Carla Finklea Green is a residence hall director at Old Dominion University.