Category: Staff Motivation (page 5 of 5)

Delegating To Staff – The Four Fatal Flaws

In today’s HRwisdom Blog update we examine an issue that is crucial to optimal management performance yet is often handled in a very sub-optimal way: delegating to staff.

Delegating to StaffWe are very fortunate to be able to bring your insights of special guest expert, Dave Clemens.

Dave Clemens has served as deputy financial editor of the International Herald Tribune, editor and bureau chief for Bloomberg News, and deputy bureau chief for the French News Agency.

Currently, Dave is the editor of Rapid Learning Institute’s The HR Café, an informative, entertaining blog for Human Resources Leaders.

Over to Dave . . .

Delegation: The Four Fatal Flaws That Cause New Managers to Struggle In Their New Role

Why did you get promoted to a leadership role?

When asked that question, most managers say something about deep experience in leadership or a proven track record developing people. The likelihood is that neither of these answers is true. In reality, most employees get promoted because they excel in a specific technical skill.

In promoting you to a leadership role, your organization essentially made a bet. Knowing that you can perform at a high level, it bets that given a higher salary and more responsibility, you can replicate that performance in other people.

Normally, this is a losing bet, but when it does pay off, organizations reach the Holy Grail of Delegation: The Multiplier Effect.

When leaders successfully replicate the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that made them successful – a process known as “Knowledge Transfer” – the organization gets an entire team of individuals performing at high levels. The organization also gets a leader who has the time to take on higher-level strategic activities, and make an even greater impact on organizational performance.

Now, why is this normally a losing bet? Because delegating effectively is a difficult skill to master. Many managers end up committing one of the Four Fatal Flaws of Delegation. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Misunderstanding your role.

Sometimes managers don’t understand the power of the Multiplier Effect. They think their promotion to leadership is a reward for exceptional performance. Furthermore, they think the people who now report to that manager are there to do the manager’s work and nothing else. Granted, that’s part of what delegation is about, but it isn’t the most important part.

Solution: Understand that delegation isn’t about you, but rather about your employees. Remember, the goal is to replicate your skills in other people.

2. Micromanaging

Too many managers won’t let their reports find their own path to success, and instead watch over every move employees make. The problem with this is twofold: It leaves your employees feeling disempowered and unable to take ownership of the tasks assigned to them. Second, micromanaged employees perpetually drain managers’ time, keeping them from the activities related to their new strategic role.

Solution: Recognize that good people find their own way, even if that means making mistakes along the way. As a leader, it’s your job to empower your reports to find their own solutions, not hand those solutions to them on a silver platter.

3. Lacking a plan for development.

When managers take a “sink or swim” approach to their employees, it creates a recipe for failure for both the manager and the employee.

Solution: Develop an effective development plan. That means setting a training agenda, clearly defining desired goals and outcomes for employees, and then coaching employees to help them meet those goals.

4. Assuming that delegation will lead to automatic success.

This happens when managers believe that if they were free from the low-level tasks they’re now delegating to their reports, their career will take off. In reality, the transition is rarely smooth. When that automatic success doesn’t happen, frustrated managers return to their comfort zone – operational work that other employees were taking care of. On top of demoralizing the manager, this harms reports as well, as they feel they don’t own their job anymore.

Solution: Hopefully your boss isn’t putting you into a sink or swim scenario, but if they are, seek out training. There’s no shame in admitting that management is difficult, and your boss should understand and be willing to help you transition into your new role. 

About Dave Clemens

Dave Clemens has served as deputy financial editor of the International Herald Tribune, editor and bureau chief for Bloomberg News, and deputy bureau chief for the French News Agency.

Currently, Dave is the editor of Rapid Learning Institute’s The HR Café, an informative, entertaining blog for Human Resources Leaders.

Connect with Dave via Twitter  @TheHRCafe


How To Motivate Staff – A Five Step System

How To Motivate Staff – A Five Step System

A common issue in industry that we hear a lot about at HRwisdom is the issue of staff motivation.

The ability to develop and maintain a high-performing and highly motivated workforce is key to success, or even survival during economic hard times.

How To Motivate StaffToday, we turn to expert HRwisdom contributor Leon Noone for some excellent advice on staff motivation.

Leon established his management consulting business in 1978. His core business is helping managers in small-medium business to improve the day to day job performance of their staff.

Leon offers you five steps to creating a highly motivated workforce.

What’s different though, is that Leon doesn’t actually mention Motivation in any of the five steps.

Over to Leon . . .

Staff Motivation: A 5 Step System To Ensure Success

Staff motivation: is there anything left to be said? Has any employee management issue been analyzed so much? All the analysis and examination is misleading. Only 5 steps are involved.

1. Sort Out Your Marketing

There are two absolute essentials for good marketing: a clear, specific business focus and a narrow specific target market. These two factors must be in place. They are the foundations that support the whole business, including employee performance.

You must know exactly what your business exists to achieve and who your ideal customer is. You cannot expect staff to give you what you want if you are not clear on exactly what it is you’re in business to do and who with.

2. Exact Performance Expectations

Your staff need to know exactly what you expect of them in clear, unambiguous, measurable performance terms.

Don’t bother with generalities about “attitude”, “application” and “co-operation”. If you want 13 widgets a day for the cost of 9.4 cents a widget, you must tell your employees. If you don’t say exactly what you want, you won’t get it.

3. Exact Method Of Measurement

Tell employees precisely the performance you expect. Then tell them exactly how you’ll measure that performance. How will the widgets be counted? How will the production costs be assessed? Must each operator produce 13 widgets or will be the total number be acceptable? Employees need to know this.

4 Put Effective Performance Systems In Place

It’s an old saying but true: “If your systems are poor, your people will fail.” Another is “Put systems in place that make it impossible for employees to fail.” I myself have said and written this hundreds of times. Finally, keep in mind that “a poor system will beat a good performer every time”.

You can have the keenest, most enthusiastic, most skilled and hardest working employees on the planet. Poor systems will stop them dead in their tracks faster than anything else.

5. Establish Measurable Performance Standards

You’ve probably always been told that performance goals are very important. They are. But performance standards are more important than goals. Performance standards tell you precisely whether the goals have been achieved. And they measure progress towards goals too. No performance standards; no goal achievement.

No “Motivation”

Notice that this 5 step method doesn’t mention “motivation”. That’s because motivation is a consequence. When this 5 step System works for you, the consequence will be highly motivated employees. That’s why much of the literature about “motivation” is misplaced.

Two Crucial Realities

The basic human unit in the workplace is the team not the individual. We recruit individuals it’s true. But we expect them to be successful and effective in teams. We construct the workplace with teams. That’s the first reality. Here’s the second.

Employees do not need to “get on well” in order to work effectively together. Don’t spend time trying to “improve interpersonal relations”. Good interpersonal relations are a “consequence of” successful team performance not a “prerequisite for” it.

“Pep” Talks, Counselling And All That

These activities may have some short term value. But they’re no substitute for performance standards and performance systems. Put your time into designing success and achievement for employees to aspire to.

Remember The Business

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that employees are part of the resource you use to run a successful business. The manager’s job is to use all resources as well as possible. As famous performance expert Geary Rummler says, “An organization is only as effective as its processes”. Concentrate on getting the processes right.  Let me repeat: if your systems are poor, your people will fail.


Keeping staff enthusiastic and committed isn’t child’s play. But it’s not rocket science either. Some gurus would like you to think that it is. You’re not responsible for the total emotional wellbeing of employees. Ricardo Semler, CEO of the very successful Semco, sums it up this way: “My job is to motivate them so that they go home each day proud of their work”. Notice that he accepts that responsibility.

How To Motivate Staff – The Five Step System

Thanks to Leon for his excellent advice on how to motivate staff. Such advice is well-timed as businesses face trying times as the economy continues to suffer.

We encourage you take action on Leon’s five step system.

Remember, you can learn more about Leon and his excellent HR services by visiting his website here: Leon Noone


How To Motivate Staff | The Key Elements

How To Motivate Staff – The Key Elements

The question of how to motivate staff is very important and is one we like to help answer here at HRwisdom.

Today we are sharing a very useful presentation sent to us on the key elements of staff motivation.

How To Motivate StaffWe think you’ll enjoy the presentation (slides only, no sound) as it reveals some very interesting results from studies conducted on employee motivation in very different work situations.

Furthermore, the slides reference some interesting information from a Return On Investment study conducted in Australia which looked at the fine balance between cash rewards and other methods of motivating your staff.

[box size=”medium” border=”full”]You may also wish to take a look at our previous HRwisdom Blog update where we shared an example of excellence in the field of employee attraction and retention. In particular, we shared one small example of excellent leadership which ticked all the boxes: 1) Make people want to join the business. 2) Make people want to stay in the business. 3) Inspire people to give their all for the business. 4) And most impressively, impresses potential clients of the business.[/box]

Of course, we always recommend having a browse through the HRwisdom Blog for more great information and ideas on employee motivation, employee engagement and similar issues (and make sure you’re part of the free HRwisdom Community via the sign-in form on the right-hand side of this page).

But, in the meantime, take a look at this presentation and have a think about how it applies in your organisation:



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