Manager’s promises

The recent world financial crisis is now followed by rumors and then practical actions toward manpower cuts. In some cases it seems that executives are “riding” the situation in order to make some efficiency cuts, but surprisingly we meet a new phenomenon of CEO’s declaring that they won’t take advantage of the situation and they will not make manpower cuts. They declare that “employees shouldn’t pay the price!”

It reminded me of an article I’ve read a long time ago in an Israeli business magazine.  Anat Cohen addresses 10 messages that senior executives allow themselves to spread around to their employees, but practically they do not deliver. She named her article “Throwing dust”.

I chose six statements out of the ten ‘great lies of managers’ as she calls them:

 “Our organization is the second family for our employees” a very pretentious statement as it quite difficult to compare family with work. Relationships in the family are eternal – and even if your son is schlemiel (unsuccessful person) you will still love him, nourish him and feel responsible for him. At work, an unsuccessful employee will be “disposed of” the ‘organizational family’, without hesitation.

“I don’t care how many hours you spend in the office, as long as the work is being done” –  you can be the most rational manager, and it will still bother you that your employee is late, leaves early or takes a long lunch break. How does this go together with the freedom that the manager gives his employees? It does not. Only few do not give significance to the hours their people spend at work.

“I certainly use an ‘open door’ policy”one of the most popular lies of managers. While it sends out a message of openness, in practice the manager doesn’t really have the time to see every employee. An employee that wants to use this policy finds out very quickly that he has to go through secretaries, long processes and endless cancelations. Finally when he is there for 5 minutes, he will soon find out that the manager’s attention is not really focused on him.  

 I’m seeking for real feedback from my employees about my management skills”this seems to be a very liberal approach that shows openness and ability to absorb criticism. In reality, when managers say such a phrase, they refer more to positive feedback about their good characteristics – and let’s see you dare say something negative!

“I receive crucial decisions only after I consult with my people”the more senior and powerful the position is, the more the manager will present himself as such.  But in reality they do so mainly in order to ease their conscious or just to receive confirmation for decisions they took already.  The meeting scenario is like this: the first participant that expresses a different opinion from the one that the manager is locked on receives many profound questions. All the other participants understand very quickly where the wind is blowing and the desired decision is decided ‘unanimously’. The formal announcement is, of course, – “it was the management decision to……”

“Our employees are our most precious asset…”there is not even one single executive that doesn’t start a major celebration with the employees without flattering for “how important they are for the organization”. But such a saying seems worthless in real moments of difficulties. Most of the executives suddenly find that manpower cuts are the simplest act.

(From an article by Anat Cohen, “Globes” magazine, May 2006)

I don’t think that managers deliberately ‘throwing dust’ as Mrs. Cohen mentions, but I do agree that there is much truth in her arguments. As I was myself a senior executive for many years, I know that executives are sensitive toward manpower cuts and I also believe that manpower efficiency cuts are legitimate, like any other cost item. Nevertheless, managers should give more importance to how to ‘walk the talk’, how to minimize the gap between words and actions. Employees keep up quickly when promises are nothing more than lip service, quicker than the managers like to think….

Fireworks (16)
Shuka, Thursday, November 6, 2008

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