23rd February 2017

There should be a law against it.

I am philosophically almost totally opposed to regulation. However there is one specific area where we are, as yet, unregulated and where there is an obvious need for some form of forced control.

That is the area of leadership, management and supervision. Almost weekly I feel compelled to abandon my beliefs and wish for some form of licensing before people are allowed to have formal power over their fellow humans.

I am regularly witness to the damage done to the human spirit by ill considered, badly applied and downright cruel management and supervisory practices. This ranges from the purely ignorant through to the malevolent right up to the systematic bullying.

It may be that someone doesn’t have children and are therefore more flexible with their starting times, or holiday requirements which so often leads to them being taken advantage of; always having to do the less social shifts, or the Christmas rota, or the early starts or the emergency call outs. I heard of a case recently in the health service where someone who had had so much time off sick that, when she finally returned to work, she was encouraged to take her holidays, before her entitlement ran out. Frequently a team of six will be reduced to five or four by the absence of some of their colleagues. Those who conscientiously attend at all costs, therefore, have to take up the additional workload left by the absentees. As they typically don’t complain, they are given even more of the load to bear. Inevitably this eventually results in the ‘willing hands’ becoming more and more disenchanted until they finally resort to the same tactics.

People are always going to need time off. This isn’t the problem. The problem is caused by weak management or supervision who don’t monitor the situation, keep records or carry out return to work interviews which would quickly sort the genuinely ill from the persistent malingerers, supporting the willing worker and making life a bit more difficult for those who consistently fail to pull their weight. This isn’t about being harsh, it is about being firm. Firmer application of the rules would be much fairer and more transparent to all. It would create a fairer, more harmonious place to come to work.

In the same way that great leaders inspire their people to perform at a higher level, so poor managers or supervisors suck the spirit, the enthusiasm and the energy from those that once could be bothered. There should be a law against it. This form of slow surreptitious mental torture is no better than child cruelty. Leaders, managers and supervisors who are causing their people to be anything less than their best are guilty of a serious crime against mankind.

The current government has much to say about the poor levels of productivity at the moment. I wonder if they have ever thought to calculate the cost of weak leadership on the numbers.

That great 21st century philosopher Homer Simpson nailed it when he observed, “If adults don’t like their jobs they don’t go on strike. They just go in every day and do it really half-arsed”

I wonder how many of your team are “doing it really half arsed” because somewhere in your organisation, someone is weakly, cruelly or corruptly managing or supervising those who would be your best workers and your most loyal advocates. I wonder how much potential is not being realised in your business, on your team with your people.