November 2013 Archives
Anyone who knows me professionally is aware that I am a strong advocate for creating companies that deliberately address the issue of the work-life interface. I am a huge proponent of interventions like work flexibility because they create a win-win scenario for organizations and employees. I can often be convinced that various work-life practices can produce benefits for the organization and the employee that are truly sustainable and make an impact.
That being said, there is no way I can be convinced that Bring Your Parents to Work Day is anything but silly (and probably a few other descriptors that force the APA editors to redacted this redacted and ensure that I am redacted redacted redacted redacted redacted and never allowed to redacted redacted redacted redacted ever again). And quite frankly, I agree wholeheartedly with almost everything Alison Green argues about this issue. I was disturbed that LinkedIn would think that was a good idea, but I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw that Google was doing the same thing (maybe Google is not as close to ruling the world as I thought).
I already knew parents were overinvolved with their children at younger ages, but Bring Your Parents to Work Day is even a bigger problem. I don’t mind when someone’s parents drop by the office and get a brief tour from their child before they head off to lunch together. But the idea that somehow, parents and their adult children cannot discuss what they do in their professional lives without formalized tours and other goofy, time-wasting programs is a bit ridiculous. Alison Green may be right when she says this is just another element of the coddling that has occurred in the lives people who are starting to enter the workforce.
To which, all I can say is…Stop already! Enough with the goofy gimmicks. Stop wasting time coming up with the next silly idea, like Bring Your Parents to Work Day, that is not going to have a significant impact on the work culture. Quite frankly, it takes the focus away from where it should be – creating workplace cultures and processes that actually improve the way work is done. I suppose the powers that be at Google and LinkedIn can rest assured that if they decide to terminate an employee, the efforts to get workers’ parents more involved will also lead to parents challenging those terminations and intervening on their children’s behalf. And, that will just encourage this phenomenon to spread.
Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/a_stepanov
A psychologically healthy workplace promotes employee well-being and organizational performance, but it spills over into employee interactions with customers and clients, creating positive outcomes on that front, as well. Rachel Hahn-Teichberg, head veterinary technician for All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in Salem, MA talks about how a positive work environment affects customer service and the relationships employees have with clients.
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Yahoo is at it once again. In the face of continuing challenges, it has now decreed that it will institute a forced-ranking performance system.
While Jack Welch has been given credit for popularizing this perspective, one could easily make the case that such a system might be considered to be one of the more abhorrent aspects of his legacy at GE. And, of course, let’s not forget that with the right additional push from the culture, such a system can help to produce a truly toxic, criminal environment, as in the case of Enron.
So, while I would never support such a system, I have read some rather interesting arguments against it that I think are also equally flawed. One such article appeared on Forbes’ site. The author mentions that such a system can cause employee morale problems because many employees are put into the “meets expectations” category, which makes them feel like “C” students or “average” employees.
While arbitrarily putting workers into a category because you are forced to have a normal distribution of ratings is a problem, the argument for why workers dislike being labelled as “meets expectations” is the entire reason such systems were created in the first place. They were developed as a way to keep a manager from having such lax standards that everyone was placed into the “exceeds expectations” category even if they didn’t belong there.
While forced rankings are not the solution to that problem, the Forbes article actually highlights a huge culture problem that exists in the U.S. and elsewhere – the idea that “meets expectations” or “average” is akin to labeling someone as a failure.
Well, guess what? The hard truth is that not everyone exceeds expectations. Not everyone is a high performer in everything they do. Just because you believe you are an above-average employee does not make it reality.
The fact is, meeting expectations or being an average employee is not something to be avoided like the plague. Sure, we would all love to be top performers, and in some aspects of our work, many people probably are. But workers are not supposed to be evaluated just on the basis of the one or two areas where they exceed performance standards. They are supposed to be evaluated on the entire package of work they do as a part of their job.
And unless an organization’s culture instills a sense of how to drive workers toward higher performance and encourages a realistic view of the impact each worker is having on the organization, we are going to be left with organizations who utilize problematic performance management systems, such as the forced-ranking system. It is an attempt (though perhaps a maladaptive one) to eliminate the coddling that occurs much too often in today’s work environment.