Killing a good organisation

Wednesday, 5 October 2011 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

You would have often heard the phrase that one bad apple can spoil the entire bushel. Well, one negative board member can do the same to your organisation.

For many years having served on boards elected and appointed, there are certain challenges you will face – you can bank on it! Board members are volunteers and this fact needs to be understood and recognised when confronting negative board members.

What drives an individual to serve on a public or private board is an unknown factor. We know that their willingness to serve is one of idealism and being asked for their resources and talent. Board meetings are demanding and take time to prepare for.

If you are not keeping up with your readings and reviewing the financial documents prior to attending a scheduled board meeting, you can find yourself in a difficult and uncomfortable situation. Board meetings are designed to take action by casting a vote on key issues confronting your organisation. If you fail to prepare, you are failing not only yourself but the organisation you serve.

Being a positive board member is difficult enough but being a negative know-it-all board member drains the energy and enthusiasm of your colleagues and staff.

What is a negative board member? Let’s define what appears to be the common trait of negative board participation:

n    One who argues their point when there is no point

n    One who interrupts when others are speaking on an issue

n    One who claims that if you do not follow their recommendation, the organisation is doomed to fail. This type has a problem listening to the ideas and suggestions of other members.

n    One who speaks ill of the organisation to other members when in the field or at public gatherings

Your board should not tolerate insubordination or negative public comments and if the trend continues, you owe it to your organisation to call for a reprimand or discharge of the negative individual from your board or committee leadership roles they may serve. No one wants controversy, especially when you are giving your personal time and commitment to improve and support the organisation that you are helping to grow.

From management level: Seven ways to personally ruin an organisation

1. Slack yourself

You know how they always say that you need to set an example for your employees, this is not an exception. You need to take as much leave as possible. Since you are the boss and you can afford it, then why not leave repeatedly for extended periods of time, and show your employees how to slack and escape responsibility?

This will have the added value of leaving the company unattended and will encourage employees to slack off, not only by following your example, but also by exploiting your absence. There is no problem if you are not there; hopefully, someone else may do the job.

2. Ignore talent

Even better – punish it! You can punish dedicated employees, and let everyone know that dedication and creativity will not be tolerated in your institution. This will not only lead to poor productivity by your employees, it will also drive dedicated employees out of your company, and leave you with exactly what you need – slackers.

Give ‘golden handshakes’ to your good staff and send them out on a VRS. The good performers will choose the VRS as they know that they are employable elsewhere. Feel happy and comfortable with the slackers, poor performers who are left behind.

3. Encourage suck-ups

Reward those who agree with you about everything you say, and punish those who give you honest and sincere opinions. As a result, you will not only end up not seeing the whole picture of every subject, and seeing only your side of it, which will most likely be brighter than reality, you will also be lured into making mistakes that will damage your company.

If you have a bad idea on a bad day and everyone is telling you that you are a genius. This will also encourage employees who are not suck-ups to start sucking up, and will have the added value of driving the honest employees out of your company with time. What is more, this will create the bonding of professionals who want to do things right and then what have you got? Factions!

4. Appoint jerks in high positions

If you want to bury the talent of your employees efficiently, you need to assign stupid people in charge of them. This is the most effective method of ruining any company, because it will have a number of effects on productivity.

First and foremost, it will mean that your talented employees will be assigned to do stupid tasks, given by the stupid bosses. This will reduce the productivity of your entire workforce, because it will be distracted by doing insignificant tasks for your product quality. This will also make your employees even less dedicated to doing these tasks, since they seem too stupid to them. Use seniority in service as a reason to promote idiots to the next higher level of stupidity.

Secondly, even if an employee tries to come up with a genuine way to create quality product, it will be filtered by the jerks in command. It will be massacred and altered into a bad product. You will only get products that are equivalent to ‘talent’ of people you put in charge, no matter how talented your pyramid-base employees are.

Thirdly, with time, this will also work to reduce the number of talented employees in your company, and you will end up with a bunch of stupid employees, who will drive your company to bankruptcy even faster.

5. Discriminate

Don’t be fair, and never treat your employees equally. This will make your employees envy and hate each other. This will create an atmosphere of hatred in the company, which is essential in the process of turning down any institution. Your employees will also dislike both you, and the company they work in, and will do their best to not do their best at their job.

Build your carefully chosen favourites. Give your secretary power over your subordinates. Make sure they respect and fear your secretary. Let her select whom she likes for favours and benefits. Build your mafia.

6. Instigate hatred!

If the above method doesn’t work, you need to start creating conflicts between your employees, encouraging them to hate each other. There are millions of ways to do that – be creative.

7. Whine

After doing all of the above, you need to constantly whine about low productivity in your company, and always blame your employees for that. This will drive your employees insane, and will make them give up on any hope that you might one day notice what your poor management is doing for your company. Take credit for what works well and blame your staff for all things that go wrong, irrespective of whether they had anything to do with it or not.

Keep your door closed for complaints, your eyes closed for your shortcomings, and your ears closed for criticism. Be patient and persistent, and you shall be rewarded. These steps can drive even the most successful of corporations down like a snap of a finger.

Everyone should live by your values (except for a few prima donnas who bring in a lot of the revenue). Yes, everyone should have basic values — honesty, integrity and all the others you’ve heard throughout your life. That’s a given. But expecting people to live according to your special set of values is demeaning. And if you set rules for everyone except the chosen few who can behave any way they want as long as they bring in cash, that’s doubly-demeaning.

Act as if great companies are built to last. Despite the name of the popular book, a lot of great companies haven’t lasted. That’s because they were once great but didn’t change and adjust. They thought greatness would breed more greatness.

The book ‘In Search of Excellence’ by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, describes eight basic principles of management studying 43 of the best run companies in the United States.

There was a follow-up piece of research done some years later (not by the authors) in a paper called “excellence revisited”, which argued that excellence was basically a temporary phenomenon, and that even these companies reverted to the mean.

This looked at the “excellent companies” subsequent performance and found that on average, they had deteriorated significantly in all measures of performance. They then picked a sample of “non-excellent companies” using the same ranking criteria as the original book did at the time that the original research was done. Sure enough, these on average improved significantly in performance.

When times are tough, cut out training and development. If you say you’re committed to training and developing your people, what does it say about company culture if training and developing are the first to go when money is tight. Yes, your first obligation is to make payroll. And yes, you may have to do a bit less in the development area — as you might have to do a bit less in all areas.

Still, it’s a mistake to cut employee development altogether. Training and development is required during tough times so that you can strengthen the skills and knowledge arm of the staff.

Make turning a profit your only goal. No one stays in business without staying in the black, right? Right. But if that’s all you’re interested in — at the expense of employees, family, community — you’re going to be disappointed, and maybe not even profitable.

Assume that tight management is the key to high performance. This one’s simple: Leadership is the key, not management. Can you lead people to change, to make tough choices, to sacrifice? Management doesn’t do any of that, and management alone is just about chasing numbers. On top of this, make people work long hours and Saturdays.

Just incentivise people to boost performance. Isn’t that true for sales people? Actually, it generally is, because of their values and culture. But not everyone is in sales, and not everyone responds the way sales people do. Create a new strategy, and empower employees to implement it. So you’re going to dictate strategy and then “empower” employees to do what they’re told to do? The best strategies usually come as a result of a collaborative effort within the company.

And if you say your employees don’t have the know-how or understanding of the market to help develop a strategy, then you probably have the wrong employees.

17 ways to kill an organisation

n    Don’t attend meetings, but if you do, arrive late.

n    Be sure to leave the meeting before it is over.

n    Never have anything to say at meetings; wait until you get outside.

n    When in meetings, vote to do everything, then go home and do nothing.

n    The next day find fault with your officers and fellow members.

n    Take no part in the organisation’s affairs.

n    Be sure to sit in the back so you can talk things over with another member. Nobody will notice even if they can’t hear the program.

Contd. on page 22

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