The labor market is improving. Will some of your key people choose the highway?
That’s An Order!
In the military, where discipline is essential, the expression; “that’s an order” is routinely used as a clarifier for urgent requests. What a simple way to manage! “That’s an order” is like pushing a button for instant compliance with no questions asked about why, how or what. How many of us habitually use similar power plays with our subordinates? With our family members? And why not? It often works. We’ve seen motivation by fear fuel the coaching careers of Mike Ditka, Bobby Knight and the late Billy Martin. Professional bullies have their success. They have plenty of corporate imitators who enter, make their temporary mark on quarterly earnings, then move on to leave frazzled, under performing, turnover plagued departments or organizations in their wake.
Sports bullies like Ditka, Knight and Martin benefit from some un-business-like circumstances. Their players can not easily choose to work elsewhere. That said, the legendary Larry Bird chose to drop out of IU and work on a garbage truck over playing ball for Bobby Knight. For bully business managers to thrive, they too must create circumstances where leaving is a difficult choice. Often, this takes the form of inflated salaries. In effect, it’s combat pay that creates a barrier to jumping ship.
An atmosphere of my way or the highway eventually reaches a point of diminishing effectiveness. As people become calloused to intimidation and defensively tune it out, results suffer. When the primary human need, security, is threatened, the strong and talented eventually choose the highway to more secure surroundings. The weak and vulnerable remain and develop the style of their intimidating role models. Remember the FedEx commercial with the cascading command: If that package isn’t in Omaha by tomorrow it’s your job!
The cost of replacing a professional employee costs the typical organization 1.5 times their annual salary.
While the that’s an order approach is vital in life and death, battlefield situations, enlightened military leaders have long recognized it is not the most effective leadership approach for building prolonged peak performance.
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
As the economy eventually drives an improved labor market, people caught in abusive systems will find it easier to choose the highway.
- Do your urgent requests for action include subtle or not-so-subtle threats of unemployment?
- Are there budding Larry Birds in your organization about to move to a competitor?
- Will you be increasing combat pay as the economy improves?
- What will turnover cost your company this year?
- What actions will be taken prevent these issues from effecting your customers, bottom line and ability to grow?
An ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure.