“by Liz Ryan, http://www.forbes.com”
It is hard to unlearn the messages that we have heard repeated since we were children. One of them is “Business is a stiff and formal place. To be human and spontaneous is fun, but it isn’t professional!”
Some organizations understand the connection between passion and performance, but a lot of them missed that memo completely. They run their organizations like prison camps.
I know, because my inbox fills up every day with mail from folks who could get a demerit for coming back three minutes late from lunch — and I’m talking about Knowledge Workers!
Some CEOs are out of touch. Their HR leaders might try to get them to wake up and smell the new-millennium talent market coffee, but self-delusion is a powerful drug.
Sometimes it takes a shock — a wave of top employees hitting the bricks and going to work for your competitors, for instance — to deliver the message “The only way you can keep great employees in the company is by treating them like great employees.”
If you are the person delivering this person, try not to add an extra “Duh!” at the end.
Here are five truly idiotic HR policies that will keep your best employees racing for the exits the minute they get the chance — and keep you re-filling the same positions over and over until somebody pulls the needle out of your chief executive’s arm.
Industrial Revolution-Era Attendance Policies
You can’t hire Knowledge Workers, give them meaty problems to solve and then watch their comings and goings as though they were kids being dropped off at daycare. They are adults, for starters, and beyond that you hired them.
You could have hired anybody. Presumably your hiring process is thorough. Why would you hire people you don’t trust? Don’t you trust yourself enough to hire great people?
If somebody works after hours in the evening you should expect to see them arriving late the next morning. You don’t have to track those hours. If you’re tracking hours for salaried employees, you are unclear on the concept of a salary.
Insulting Performance Review Processes
It’s high time we got rid of all individual performance reviews. They are pointless and a huge waste of time, but some review processes are more insulting than others.
If you give your managers a bell curve and tell them that only a certain percentage of employees can be rated top performers, another percentage average performers and so on, then you are literally designing mediocrity into your team. Is that what you want?
Stack ranking is an abomination and the opposite of a leadership practice, since it pits employees against one another instead of encouraging collaboration.
You don’t need any of this nonsense to run your business. Talk about goals and progress whenever you want. Talk about learning from mistakes whenever it makes sense. Annual reviews have long outlived any utility they ever had as a leadership tool.
Manager’s-Choice Transfer And Promotion Policies
Painfully slowly leaders at large and small organizations are learning that you can legislate almost anything, but that doesn’t mean you control it.
Most large and many medium-sized organizations still have policies in place that require an employee who wants to apply for a different job in the company to get his or her manager’s approval first.
Any person with three functioning brain cells can instantly think of plenty of good reasons why a manager might prevent a qualified and eager employee from moving into another job.
It’s a pain in the neck to replace a key employee. You might want to keep a great person on your team to boost your own chances at getting promoted.
If you’re a great employee and you want to leave your department, your manager might block your transfer or promotion.
Why would anybody give managers total control over their team members’ career advancement?
All a frustrated employee has to do is say “Oh, well – thanks for considering it, anyway” to the boss who refused to sign his transfer application and immediately get his resume out on the street.
Now the company will lose the great employee altogether. Is that smart?
HR people working together with your employees should arrange transfer and promotion interviews. If an employee doesn’t get the job he applied for, his or her manager never even needs to know about it. If s/he gets the job, the manager can be brought into the loop at that point.