Management Tip: Work Environment and Other Musings

The remaining 45 percent were mildly to passionately positive, according to the poll of 1,100 workers at 300 mid- to large-sized companies."

The article goes on to state the key reason of unhappiness among disgruntled workers is workload. Employees are doubling up on work and burning out due to cost-cutting and downsizing. In addition, employees feel little support from management and a lack of confidence in their bosses’ decisions and actions.

Boredom and "lack of challenge" is also a key factor. Most workers say they will work harder if they feel engaged and kept "in the loop" by their managers. The old theory of "give ’em the mushroom treatment" (keeping employees "in the dark") is a joke.

"The survey noted that employers largely were accurate when gauging the mood of the workforce, but underestimated why employees were so negative. For example, employers underestimated how important it is for workers to feel self-confidence in and from their work, and underestimated the importance of professional development opportunities and challenging work" writes Kollmeyer.

"The survey noted that employers largely were accurate when gauging the mood of the workforce, but underestimated why employees were so negative. For example, employers underestimated how important it is for workers to feel self-confidence in and from their work, and underestimated the importance of professional development opportunities and challenging work."

How many managers do you know have the type of relationship with their employees which allows candid and forthright feedback from the staff (without the employee fearing reprisal)? How many managers even care about getting this type of feedback? How many managers ever conduct employee surveys to check the pulse of their workers in an attempt to improve the environment to retain key employees?

Most employers think that the reason people leave a company is because of lack of pay. Sure, everyone wants to be paid more, but it’s not the key reason most employees leave in most cases.

"Respondents also focused less on insufficient pay and financial rewards. Where pay was an issue, it was largely due to perceived unfairness, specifically insufficient pay for the level of effort or results provided" writes Kollmeyer.

Most managers aren’t accountable for turnover or employee morale, despite the devastating costs of each. They fail to realize that in most cases when an employee says "take this job and shove it" it is because of his or her direct supervisor– not what they are being paid. Most managers are not adept at hiring the right people (or do not have the right tools and/or training) or he or she has no business being in management in the first place.

Managers could learn a few things about human behavior from experts in the educational field. While taking a course in Classroom Management, it became crystal clear to me that those in supervisory roles could learn a lot from this class. Basic rules of maintaining discipline in the classroom apply in work as well. I am pleasantly shocked to find that educators are so enlightened these days—even more enlightened than most companies.

Students that are bored misbehave, as do employees. An "idle mind is the devil’s workshop" for disengaged employees. When employees are bored, factions form and all kinds of speculation and "conspiracy theory" rumors are created by employees, further fostering misinformation and driving down morale. (If there’s nothing stimulating at work, they will create the stimulation for you!) Combine this with a lack of "rules" or guidelines (meaning management’s expectations are unclear) and you have all sorts of problems…. especially if the manager has a "teacher’s pet." Employees hate nothing more than an unfair manager that shows preferences for some employees over others.

Employees need to feel a sense of belonging and must be shown respect by their manager in front of their peers. Only an employee with a flaccid backbone will tolerate verbal abuse and ad hominem attacks in front of their peers for very long. This type of "calling out" of an employee is neither effective in the classroom or in the workplace. Fear is a short term motivator that causes resentment and drives morale into the ground.

If you’re in management and you were just thrown in the job without formal training or guidance, you should invest in yourself and get some training. Reading books is helpful, but if your manager is not supportive of your actions (or overrides your efforts) you’re in a bind. The most successful managers seek management jobs because they want to help people grow and develop.

Advertising as a Profession—Once More

We’ve all heard of the Gallup Polls that cited where advertising people weren’t trusted or respected. How many of you have actually seen the poll? I had at one time, but couldn’t remember where I had seen it.

However, while reading the The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR book, the poll was cited on page 3. Check it out, it’s not pretty:

Public Perception of Honesty

  1. Nurses 79%

  2. Pharmacists 67%

  3. Medical Doctors 63%

  4. Clergy 59%

  5. Judges 47%

  6. Bankers 37%

  7. Business Executives 22%

  8. Lawyers 17%

  9. Insurance Salesmen 11%

  10. Advertising Practitioners 10%

  11. Car Salesmen 9%

What does this mean? Well, I take away a few things from this information.

We must know that when we first meet a prospective client (or even a new acquaintance), and it’s revealed that we are an "advertising practitioner" we are "guilty until proven innocent."

Whether we like it or not, we represent Herb Tarlik from WKRP, Larry Tate from Bewitched, and Joe Isuzu all rolled into one— that is until we prove otherwise. We carry a more baggage than Two Men and a Truck could deliver.

This isn’t all bad though. It’s an opportunity to separate ourselves from those in the business that have sullied our collective image— that is, if we are willing to think long-term. Because we carry this baggage, we must realize it will take more time than usual to build trust with a new prospective client. This means several meetings to demonstrate and earn trust!

Secondly, it doesn’t’ take a lot of brainpower to realize that combining the art of advertising with selling automobiles is a very daunting task. Consumers highly mistrust automotive advertising (look at the scores for both advertising practitioners and car salesmen).

The two rules of being successful long-term are simple: You must be honest and not misrepresent or "overpromise"— and you must be competent and "know your stuff."

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