Good Vs. Great – the Difference Between the Two In Getting More From Your Employees

After reading an article by Jim Clifton on LinkedIn the other day, titled Millions of Bad Managers Are Killing America’s Growth, I felt compelled to write something a little more cursory.

After finishing the article, I narrowed down the premise to one question: How often do you want to do great work? I’d wager most of the time; like myself. But then reality set in and I realized the follow-up to my own question is: how often do you get to do great work? That answer felt a little dry in my throat. I’d wager the majority answer is very little, especially if you have others who manage and assign you your work.

Affecting Employee Morale

Essentially, I broke this down to a few different scenarios I’ve found myself in and how they’ve affected my own morale. Also, I’ve observed enough individuals to recognize their voice inflections and general non-verbal body language to realize I’m in the majority of people who encounter this in the workplace:

Wrong Result Right
1 Only showing the “right” way of doing things Marginalizes abilities and limits understanding. Also reduces critical thinking for solving complex problems Failing quickly and often to discern the right way of doing things
2 Following a set procedure or list of items blindly Fails to gain a deeper understanding of the work; understanding is only superficially gained Explain the “why” of the methods and working together on understanding
3 Communicating the requirements, constraints, scope, or goals on a “need-to-know” basis Breaks down trust and confidence between parties 100% transparent communication, consistently and frequently

This is just a short list. I know I could spend an hour and come up with a dozen more, but I think you get the point.

How-to Maintain Status Quo

Good work from people is easy to come by. Here’s a simple formula to use as a manager or CEO:

  • Remove empowerment to do work and solve problems “your way”
  • Set unrealistic, unreachable, or nebulous goals.
  • Take ownership of your teams’ work and efforts.
  • Give out empty praises or worthless trophies.
  • Mindless tasks to complete (chores).
  • Continue promoting people who do excellent work to be excellent managers.
  • Finally, don’t worry about investing in their career. Just keep working on your own.

It’s Not About Me

So how do you go about getting individuals to do great work for you? To start, figure out what their motivations, desires, and needs are and give it to them (if possible). If you can’t, acknowledge that you can’t and try to find other (creative) ways to satisfy their needs. Some needs are as simple as money, others may be flexibility. Spend time with each employee and figure this out. You are spending time with your employees, aren’t you?

I could keep going, but I’ve made my point. What do you think? Have you, as an employee, encountered the decision to only aspire to do good work? Have you had a manager who inspired you to do great work?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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