You’d expect senior management to always be promoting efficiency, sponsoring talents and rewarding result-driven resources. Truth is, more often than not companies are becoming politically-correct, over-regulated democracies who penalize talent and over-delivery. Here’s a list of negative behaviours companies tend to enforce in the name of policies and par-condicio.
THE TALENT PARADOX. FOLLOW THE PACE OF THE AVERAGE
There’s a feature that’s been available on cars for a while now called “Adaptive Cruise Control”. The technology allows for a driver to instruct the car to follow the cars ahead on the same line, which means it will automatically brake or accelerate based on the traffic. You just follow the stream. The same tends to happen in businesses when over-productive resources tend to reply to too many emails, deliver tasks too quickly or put forward ideas too early. If the other departments aren’t as productive, quick or forward-thinking what normally happens is that the overactivity of the first category of people ends on a dead end, fails. So here’s where the problem is: instead of the second category being incentivized to follow the example/pace of the more prolific colleagues, the failure of the previous activities drives the most productive part of the company to settle for a much more comfortable pace and match the one of the rest of the business. This natural rebalancing of productivity ends with a significant consequence: Proactive and energetic talents who slow down to the average pace feel demotivated and leave once they find a more ambitious project to buy into (a company that promises rewarding talent and energy).
Moreover, with the rise of politically correct and inclusive policies (which I mostly agree with) the work environment is transforming into a democratic playground. Many businesses are sacrificing the standard and cynical meritocratic corporate approach for the sake of diversity and inclusion to the point that the key question during an interview isn’t anymore “How good are you at what you do?” but rather “How can you help us push the inclusivity agenda further?”. Of course I am extremizing here and I do believe strongly in a more balanced and inclusive work environment, especially when it comes down to the value of diversity in boosting progress and empowering women, but what I am forseeing is that in many instances corporations are adopting hyperprotective policies that are making certain individuals shine more than they’ve deserved, purely based on them being part of specific minority, which is exactly what technically those same policies were supposed to avoid in the first place. Talent is certainly castrated in the light of those policies if they are not comprehended and applied in the right way.
THE GENERATION PARADOX. THE MORE SENIOR YOU GET THE MORE YOU THINK YOU KNOW
I had the chance to spend a lot of time at the park with my son in the past 3 years and by doing so witness the huge variety of generational gaps between parents and their children. Children doing things fathers struggle to keep up with. Having grown up with two know-it-all elder siblings, I’ve experienced first-hand what it means growing up in an environment where no matter how interesting your ideas are, they’re just “cute thought”.
Well, I couldn’t help but notice that often senior management tend to look at ideas coming from the bottom of the business’ food chain with a certain superficiality, assuming decades of vertical know-how made them better while probably it just blindfolded them into arrogance. Or maybe it’s just because sometimes that same senior management is too stuck in micro-managing its own staff that they have no headspace to dedicate to the origination of new ideas (which normally come from the bottom level of the pyramid because that’s where the younger and more dynamic minds tend to be).
The point I am trying to make is that people should be trusted more, performance and results should matter more than years of experience. Instead there are entire industries where no matter how talented you might be, you will be allowed at a certain paygrade only after X age and only after Y years of vertical experience. Smart managers hire people that are better than them and once they do so, they listen to what they have to say, they shouldn’t shut them down just because they have less experience.
THE UBIQUITY PARADOX. BEING IN THE OFFICE DOESN’T MEAN BEING PRODUCTIVE
We’ve all experienced a little more modernity with the recent smartworking policies adopted by brands during the covid pandemic. Certain companies, especially in Italy, still require their employees to badge in and out. The goal is to make sure people spend at least 8h in the office, not to make sure they are payed when working extra hours, simply to track the basic 8 hours. It’s a mis-trust grounded in decades of bad blood between employees and companies.
I’ve personally been criticized for badging out too early in some instances – but I’ve always refused to bow to the rule. For the past year for instance, I have set 0 out of offices, received an average of 3-3.5k emails/month and read them within 30 minutes in average, sent between 400-450 emails/month. All this managing 1/3 of my emails well outside the 8 working hours [18.00-24.00] thus keeping 50-60% of my time to do things [operative stuff, research and slides] while also using 40-50% collaborating [meeting, calls, chats] and even networking with an average of 460 colleagues every year. In the past year I was on time on 90% of the online meetings I attended.
Why am I sharing these numbers? Well the point is that all the previous stats mean nothing if you don’t also think by objectives and prioritise your time based on your personal and business goals – you could spend 10 hours a day in the office or on call without adding any value.
At most companies, policies and control processes are put in place to deal
with employees who exhibit sloppy, unprofessional, or irresponsible behav-
or. But if you avoid or move out these people, you don’t need the rules. If you
build an organization made up of high performers, you can eliminate most
controls. The denser the talent, the greater the freedom you can offer.
In conclusion: One should earn based on the true value of his mind and work, not time spent in the office🧠