No manager wants incompetent people working for him/her.

But The Business Pundit blog has argued that managers and companies actually breed incompetence even without their meaning to. Business Pundit outlined some of the most common reasons for a creeping increase in incompetence.

Are you guilty of managing in any of these ways? Check these out and learn:

  1. Using numbers as the only device to measure performance.

    Managers and companies usually get eaten up by the “numbers game”—where performance is measured only in terms of sales, financials, and the bottom line. 

    But we know that performance is not only about the numbers. There are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. And what usually happens is that employees play and perform to what is being measured. This is well and good if what is being measured makes sense and captures real performance. But if the measures are not designed well, the employees will only give the minimum and even cheat their way to a good rating.

    The Business Pundit had this example: My first job out of college was as an inside sales rep. Our 5-person team’s measure of success was our number of sales. However, it took a relatively high number of calls to even begin to land a sale. So our managers gave us performance points for the number of conversations we had. If we had fewer than 14 conversations a day, we were put on probation.

    Nobody wanted to go on probation, so a workaround surfaced. On slow days, team members would enter fake conversation notes into the database that managers checked at the end of each business day. These fake notes were usually inconsequential (”Said he wasn’t interested,” etc.), but the point is that people entered a load of crap into the company’s database in order to save their own hides. Those daily quotas encouraged cheating, and harmed the company, too.

  2. Spreading workers too thin.

    In an economic atmosphere that is increasingly unstable, companies are cost-cutting by bringing down the number of employees. Because of this, those remaining become swamped with work.  When you overburden competent employees, you are breeding incompetence.

    Employees have a threshold for optimum performance and if you push them to levels of stress that they are not ready for, they will not be effective even in the things they used to be very good at.

  3. Expecting too much, too soon.

    Both employees and employers usually expect instant performance; when it doesn’t happen, managers grow disappointed and employees grow disillusioned. Many bright-eyed employees enter new jobs with enthusiasm, then fizzle out after months of not seeing the results they’d originally hoped for.

    Managers who expect employees to know everything from the outset grow impatient when they have to answer too many questions; those who sought miracles from their new employees become wary when progress is slow. It’s the beginning of communication breakdown, which often turns deadly.

    Unless it’s clear from the outset that the person has to hit the ground running, set scalable performance goals. Print out these goals and have the employee post them on his/her cubicle wall. Make expectations realistic, and absolutely clear.

    If you’re an employee, clearly communicate your limitations at the very beginning. You can do this without making yourself sound incompetent. Promise a company only what you can deliver. Make it clear that you want to grow with the company, not fester inside of it.

  4. Putting a bigger premium on politics than performance.

    In some companies, politics get employees further than quality performance. Some company cultures overemphasize the social aspect, resulting in employees who feel their advancement hinges more profoundly on department happy hours than innovation or quality of service. The result? The aggregate quality of the company suffers, and employees grow overly political, defensive, disillusioned or bored.

    Is your company like this?

  5. Rewarding mediocrity.

    Why should you work hard if nobody else is?

    Imagine you’re a gung-ho new hire employee willing to go beyond the call of duty to help the organization. You come into the job ready to give excellent work–until you notice that everyone gives mediocre work and gets away with it.

    If there is no ample reward for doing excellent work; or there is no company culture that supports it, then  mediocre work will become the norm of that company.

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