Article in The Observer 28 January 2007
'What sort of boss gives a monkey's about his staff?' by Simon Caulkin
Survey by management consultancy Hudson found that three-quarters of senior executives would do an annual cull of their workforce to boost productivity and performance (although only 4% actually do this). One sixth think they could get rid of 20% without any damage to performance or morale; and nearly half think firing up to 5% of staff would be a good thing.
Another study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found 38% of employees feel senior managers and directors treat them with respect and 66% don't trust them. About a quarter of employees rarely or never look forward to going to work, and almost half are leaving or trying to. It is like 'a marriage under stress, characterised by poor communications and low levels of trust.'
Another study by Gallup finds poor management means workers become more disaffected the longer they are in a job so that 'human assets tha6t should increase in value with training and development instead depreciate as companies fail to maximise this investment.'
Some companies (GE and Microsoft) regularly rank staff performance with an eye to getting rid of the poor staff, but there is no evidence this works. This approach suggests that team performance is simply a sum of the parts, but this is rarely the case.
Sometimes companies do need to get rid of people, particularly if they have been incompetently recruited. However, if this a routine it creates fear and unhealthy competition. An example is quote from US nursing. Units with the most 'talented' nurses and an attitude that heads will roll if people make mistakes tend not to learn because errors are covered by and not reported. However, teams that are more able to all work together report more mistakes do learn and are actually safer.
This article is particularly interesting when some of my more recent posts to this blog concerning errors when working under stress and poor morale are considered.
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