Do you show that you care?

By C. Villefrance Moeller, TalesOfLeading

“It’s a bit strange, when I’m not challenged by my superior. I’m just allowed to carry on with my projects. We are expected to praise our teams, but I think it’s 6 or 7 years since I last had an appraisal interview with my superior” he told me. I was puzzled so I asked him: “Don’t leaders need appraisal and feedback?” “I don’t know” he answered. After a few minutes of silence he said pensively: “You could say that, maybe you are right.” Then after another few minutes he was more decisive: “Yes, you are right.”

Containing frustrations

At a network meeting I heard one program manager after the other being negative about their working conditions and lack of recognition. They were really letting steam out. Here among people with similar challenges the meeting turned into a container full of rubbish. The conversation around the table was slow and lacked energy. The air was thick and I couldn’t put my finger on wat it was. Why do they go to work I wondered. I decided to make an anonymous poll before lunch. My question to them was: “Where you positive and motivated when you went to work yesterday?” After counting the poll I was even more puzzled. Everybody voted “yes”. They loved the challenges they had and it gave us a lively discussion about motivation. The incident in the initiation of this blog came out of that discussion.

Judged by your results

I must say it is tempting to accept having the liberty to do what you want when you to show good results. You can work on the projects or agenda’s you find interesting and important. If you are good at collaborating with your peers, you can get rather far. Peter Drucker introduced Management by objectives in his book “The Practice of Management” (1954). This has since been used in many industrial organizations as a way to motivate managers and teams. It’s based on the assumption, that individuals will strive for self-fulfilment if (top)management set the objectives for the organization. Though this is not the same as an abdication of management.

X and Y views of management

Douglas Murray McGregor proposed X and Y as two different views of management in his article “The Human Side of Enterprise” (1957). He described “theory X” management as a command and control type of management which assumed the average man as indolent and without any ambitions. “Theory Y” on the contrary assume that people are not passive by nature they do have the capacity and readiness to direct behaviour toward the organizations goal. But why should they? Does striving for the organizations goal always lead to self-fulfilment?

Achieved goal is not enough

You could consider linking appraisals to objectives as a “theory Y” approach to management. Some even say that the objectives can create a “meaning” of the management task. Achieved results does not say anything about how you achieved them. Then what’s there to talk about with you boss if everything is fine? The program managers at the network meeting did solve a lot of problems though they still found a lot of work to do. Solving all these problems motivated them. Then how come they needed a container for their frustrations? What kind of attention and presence from their superior would be helpful for them?

Questions for you

  • When and how do you find your superiors presence helpful?
  • How does attention from your superior effect your motivation?
  • With who can you discuss your reflections?

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