導致員工失敗症候群

The Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome
弗杭索瓦.曼佐尼 Jean-Francois Manzoni , 尚-路易.巴梭 Jean-Louis Barsoux
瀏覽人數:2466


影片載入中...
如果你的員工表現欠佳,原因可能是你自己對他們的期望太低。本投影片教你如何扭轉這個惡性循環。

當員工失敗時,主管通常不會自責。但一項針對九百多名高階主管的深入研究發現,很多領導人不知不覺中導致員工失敗。這故事很熟悉:你有一名直屬部屬,你認為他工作表現未達標準。你開始密切注意他,給他很具體的指示。但他的工作表現不斷惡化。你認為問題出在他身上,他可能態度不好,或缺乏必要的技能。但還有另一種可能。

不知不覺中,你可能創造了一種負面互動,讓他降低表現水準去符合你的低期望。這是典型的惡性循環。這種「導致員工失敗症候群」,通常會逐漸出現在主管身上。你們最初擁有正向關係,但發生某些事情,也許是他錯過工作截止期限,也許是前任上司對他的評論不佳,讓你對這名員工產生疑慮。你限制他的自由裁量權,並開始密切注意他。他感覺到你對他缺乏信心,於是開始懷疑自己、退縮,不再盡全力工作。

以清志的遭遇為例。他獲選擔任一條重要生產線的領班。他的新上司莫娜,要求他定期撰寫品管退件分析報告。清志認為,沒必要寫報告說明他自己了解和監控的資訊,因此他沒花心思好好寫報告,而且延遲提交。莫娜很生氣,開始更強力要求提供報告。

清志覺得不受她信任,於是開始退縮,變得被動。莫娜不久就開始監督他的每個舉動,於是他準備辭職。莫娜原本可以乾脆讓清志辭職,甚至開除他。但他曾被認為是優秀員工,因此更好的做法,也許是設法扭轉這種有害的互動,讓他重回正軌。首先,我們來看看為何會出現導致員工失敗症候群,以及它的影響。這種症候群相當普遍。作者在研究中發現,即使是被視為優秀上司的主管,也會發生這種情況。

怎麼會這樣?研究顯示,絕大多數主管心裡會把部屬分成「核心群體」和「圈外人」。他們對這兩群人的態度大不相同,即使他們的本意是好的。核心群體的成員受到信任和尊重,獲得更多的自主權和好評。上司與他們互動的方式,個人化且友善。圈外群體的成員,被主管認為是受雇人員,主管會以較正式的方式管理他們,對他們更強調規則、政策和權威。

用這種方式來區分員工,主管就更容易分配任務,有挑戰性的工作分配給核心群體成員,日常例行工作則交給圈外人員工。這麼做的危險在於,主管往往過早做出這種區分,通常在短短五天內。從那時起,他們會選擇性地注意到支持自身觀點的證據,而忽略違反自身觀點的證據。例如,他們可能將某個圈外人員工的新產品構想,詮釋為一次性的偶然幸運事件。

你可能會想,「嚴密管理部屬有什麼不好?」因為它可能會在兩方面傷害部屬的工作動機:剝奪員工的自主權;讓他們感覺被低估。員工若是感覺不被認可、受到批評或缺乏信心,就會自我封閉,不再提出構想。他們不再用心對待主管和工作,也不再尋求幫助,不再主動提供資訊。導致員工失敗症候群也會嚴重影響到團隊的其他成員,不僅限於「問題員工」。

你可能會開始把更多工作,分派給你認為表現出色的團隊成員,讓他們承受很大壓力。這種麻煩關係也可能影響你的聲譽,如果其他部屬認為,你不公平對待或不支持他們的同事。有時員工可以打破這種模式,做法是提交優異的成果,以改變主管的想法。但這種情況很少見。

大多數情況是,這種症候群不會結束,除非主管了解這種自我實現的互動狀況,並承認自己可能是導致員工績效欠佳的原因。注意到這個問題,是第一步。下一步更加困難:仔細規畫一系列坦誠的談話,明白提出雙方關係中潛藏的問題。遺憾的是,沒有固定腳本可用來進行這類談話,但有一些指導原則可用。

首先,上司應選擇沒有威脅性的開會時間和地點。重要的是,別把這些會議定位為「回饋意見」,因為這看起來像是單方面的。相反地,主管應該表示真心希望談談彼此的緊張關係。特別是,他們應該承認,自己的行為可能是造成問題的部分原因。其次,上司和員工必須對問題的症狀達成共識。他們必須指出,表現欠佳的哪些領域造成了這種緊張關係。

畢竟,很少有員工在所有方面都沒有善盡職責。例如,對於清志和莫娜來說,關鍵問題是品管報告。莫娜執行介入措施時,必須提供清志那個問題的事實證據,而不只是簡單地說:「我感覺你沒有花足夠心力在這些報告上。」莫娜應該說明,優良的報告是什麼樣子,以及為什麼清志的報告未達標準。她應該給清志機會辯護自己的表現,比較清志與其他同事的表現,並指出他的強項。

一旦確定了問題領域,就該檢視造成這些問題的原因。員工是否需要更好的組織技能,還是他欠缺知識?他是否不會處理壓力?他和上司是否有對優先事項達成共識?上司也必須談到自己的行為,並說明它如何讓情況變得更糟。

這方面的重點,是要找出上司和員工對於彼此的意圖有哪些假設。例如,莫娜可以告訴清志:「如果你不提供我要求的報告,我會認為你不積極主動。」清志可以說:「要求書面報告,會讓我覺得這是過度控制。」

雙方對於造成摩擦的原因達成共識之後,就可以制定解決辦法。他們應該考慮如何填補技能和知識的不足,以及今後將提供哪些監督。請注意,主管當然有權監督員工的工作。但必須清楚說明,目標是協助員工發展,而且會隨著績效提高而減少監督。

最後,主管和員工必須同意,未來會對彼此更加開誠布公。上司應請員工在自己傳達出低期望時,提醒上司注意。反過來看,員工應表示,如果自己做的任何事令主管感到不滿,或無法理解,也請主管提醒自己。這些簡單的要求,可以促成彼此更誠實的關係。你身為上司,可能很想要避免這種談話,改為設法給予員工更多鼓勵,以解決這個問題。

討論之前,主管必須區分情感與現實,詢問:「情況總是這麼糟嗎?有什麼證據顯示員工真的這麼差?他有哪些地方表現良好?他可能會如何為自己辯護?」主管會更容易接受員工的意見,如果他已經質疑過自己的成見。但這沒有解決員工績效欠佳時,員工自己造成的問題。它限制了雙方可以做到的學習。有時主管執行得太 過度,給員工的自主權超過了他們可承擔的範圍。這些討論絕不容易,但做些準備工作,可以讓討論更順利。

實施介入措施的結果,幾乎總是勝過持續表現欠佳、維持緊張關係。但結果也不盡相同。在最好的情況下,可以消除隔閡,而且主管提供指導和重新設計工作,都可以改善員工的績效,彼此的關係也會重回正軌。有時候,員工只有微幅改善,但由於他和上司之間有深刻的理解,所以他們可以修改工作,以便更適合那名員工,或是為他找到新的工作。有時候,結果可能是員工離職。這仍然會有成效:它減輕了壓力,並讓更適合的人擔任這個職務。

受到公平對待的員工,更有可能接受這個流程的結果,團隊中的其他人也是如此。因此有可能逆轉導致員工失敗症候群。但更好的做法是防患未然。作者在研究當中發現,沒有這種症候群的主管,都具有某些特質。他們從一開始就積極監督部屬,並隨著績效改善而逐漸減少指導。

他們創造了一種環境,讓員工可以自在地討論他們與主管的關係和績效。他們經常質疑自己的態度,例如,自問對於部屬的期待事項,是否有未明確表達的部分。例如,莫娜從未明確告訴清志,她的總體目標是建立一套系統,用來分析品管退件的原因。她原本可以說明這種系統的好處,然後和清志商定,在系統啟動並運作之後,她就會減少參與。

但她沒有這麼做,而是讓他去猜測。就像介入措施一樣,若想擺脫這種症候群,上司就必須好好與員工互動。但如果主管仍逐漸陷入這種症候群,總是可以找到解決辦法,只要主管有意識到這一點,有勇氣承認自己應負部分責任,並願意以就事論事和協作的方式,主動與員工談論造成問題的原因和解決方法。

這種參與程度很重要,有助於員工充分發揮潛力。你若是希望組織中的員工全心全意投入工作,就必須這樣做。

(劉純佑譯)


When an employee fails, managers typically don't blame themselves. But in-depth studies of more than 900 executives found that many leaders unknowingly set their employees up for failure. IT'S A FAMILIAR TALE: You have a direct report whose work you think isn't up to par. You start watching him closely and giving him very specific instructions… but his work keeps deteriorating. You assume the problem is him-- he probably has a bad attitude or lacks the necessary skills. But there's another possibility.

Unknowingly, you may have created a negative dynamic in which he is living down to your low expectations. This is a classic vicious circle. The set-up-to-fail syndrome often creeps up on managers. You start with a positive relationship, but something-- a missed deadline, or maybe a lukewarm review from a previous boss-- makes you question the employee. You limit his discretion and begin watching him closely. Sensing your lack of confidence, he starts doubting himself, withdraws, and stops doing his best.

Consider what happened to Kiyoshi, who was chosen to lead a key production line at his company. His new boss, Mona, asked him to regularly write up analyses of quality-control rejections. Kiyoshi didn't see the need for reports on information he understood and monitored himself, so he didn't put any effort into them and submitted them late. Mona was annoyed and began to ask for the reports more forcefully.

Feeling that she distrusted him, Kiyoshi started to withdraw and became passive. Soon Mona was supervising his every move, and he was ready to quit. Mona could have simply let Kiyoshi quit, or even fired him. But given that he had once been considered an excellent performer, wouldn't it be better to find a way to reverse this toxic dynamic and get him back on track? First, let's look at why the set-up-to-fail syndrome happens and what its effects are. The syndrome is fairly common. In their studies, the authors found that it happens even with people who are perceived to be excellent bosses.

How can that be? Research shows that the vast majority of managers mentally sort their subordinates into “in” and “out” groups. And they approach these two groups very differently, even when their intentions are good. Members of the in crowd are treated with trust and respect and get more autonomy and praise. Bosses also interact with them in a personal and collegial way. Members of the out group are regarded as hired hands and managed in a more formal way, with greater emphasis on rules, policy, and authority.

Categorizing employees this way makes it much easier for managers to parcel out tasks-- the challenging assignments go to people in the “in “group, and the routine ones get divvied up among the “out” group. The danger is, managers tend to make up their minds prematurely --often within just 5 days. And from then on, they selectively notice evidence that supports their opinion and dismiss evidence that contradicts it. For example, they might interpret a terrific new-product idea from someone who's in the out group as just a lucky onetime event.

You might be wondering, “What's so bad about closely managing reports?” Well, it can hurt motivation in two ways: by depriving employees of autonomy, and by making them feel undervalued. And if employees sense disapproval, criticism, or lack of confidence, they tend to shut down. They stop offering ideas. They become disengaged from their manager and from their job. They no longer ask for help or volunteer information. The set-up-to-fail syndrome also has serious repercussions for the other people on your team--not just the “problem employee.”

You may start to steer more work to the team members you think are strong performers, and stress them out. The troubled relationship can take a toll on your reputation, too, if other reports perceive that you're being unfair to or unsupportive of one of their peers. Sometimes an employee can break this pattern by delivering great results that change the manager's mind. But that happens pretty rarely.

Most of the time, the syndrome won't end until the manager understands the self-fulfilling dynamic and acknowledges that she is probably contributing to the employee's poor performance. Recognizing the problem is the first step. The next is more difficult: carefully planning a series of candid conversations that will bring the relationship's underlying issues to the surface. Unfortunately, there's no script for what these conversations should sound like, but there are some guidelines.

First, the boss should select a nonthreatening time and place for meetings. It's important not to position these sessions as “feedback,” because that seems one-sided. Instead, managers should say they genuinely wish to have a dialogue about the tension in the relationship. In particular, they should acknowledge that their own behavior may be partly to blame. Second, boss and employee need to arrive at a mutual understanding of the symptoms of the problem. They need to pinpoint the particular areas of underperformers that are causing the tension.

After all, few employees fall short on all their responsibilities. For instance, with Kiyoshi and Mona, the key issue was the quality reports. In her intervention, Mona needs to give Kiyoshi factual evidence of the problem and not simply say, “I have the feeling that you're not putting enough energy into these.” Mona should describe what a good report looks like and why Kiyoshi's don't measure up. And she should give him a chance to defend his performance, compare it with that of other colleagues, and point out where he is strong.

Once the problem areas are identified, it's time to examine the reasons for the weaknesses. Does the employee need better organizational skills, or is he lacking knowledge? Does he have trouble handling pressure? Do he and the boss agree on priorities? The boss also needs to raise the subject of her own behavior and how it might be making things worse.

Here, it's key to unearth the assumptions that boss and employee have been making about each other's intentions. For example, Mona might tell Kiyoshi, “When you didn't supply the reports I asked for, I concluded that you weren't proactive.” And Kiyoshi might say, “Asking for the reports in writing seemed overly controlling to me.”

Once both parties agree on the causes of the friction, they can map out ways to address it. They should think about how to fill any gaps in skills and knowledge and what supervision will be provided going forward. Note that it's more than OK for the boss to monitor the employee's work. But it needs to be clear that the goal is development and that supervision will decrease as performance improves.

Last, manager and employee need to agree to be more open with each other in the future. The boss should invite the employee to call her out whenever she's communicating low expectations. And conversely, the employee should ask to be alerted if he's doing anything that's irritating or that the boss doesn't understand. Those simple requests can open the door to a more honest relationship. As a boss, you may be tempted to avoid these conversations and try to fix the problem just by giving the employee more encouragement.

But that doesn't address the employee's role in underperformance. It limits the learning that both parties could achieve. And sometimes managers go overboard, giving employees more autonomy than they're ready for. These discussions are never easy, but some prep work will make them go more smoothly. Beforehand, the boss must separate emotion from reality, asking, “Was the situation always this poor? What's the evidence that the employee is really that bad? What has he done well? How might he defend himself?” It's easier for the boss to be open to the employee's views if she's already challenged her own preconceptions.

The results of interventions are almost always preferable to continued underperformance and tension. But they vary. In the best cases, the air is cleared, coaching and job redesign improve the employee's performance, and the relationship gets back on track. Sometimes the employee improves only marginally, but because he and the boss have a strong understanding, they can modify the job to fit him better-- or find him a new job. Sometimes, the outcome may be the employee's departure. That can still be productive: it alleviates the strain and allows someone who is better suited to come into the role.

Having been treated fairly, the employee is more likely to accept the outcome of the process-- and so are the other people on your team. So it is possible to reverse the set-up-to-fail syndrome. But it's even better not to let it develop in the first place. In their research, the authors found that managers who steered clear of this syndrome shared certain traits. They were very involved with all their reports from the start, gradually reducing guidance as performance improved.

They created environments where employees felt comfortable discussing both relationships with their manager and performance. They regularly challenged their own attitudes, asking, for instance, whether they were expecting things from their reports that hadn't been clearly articulated. Mona, for instance, never made it clear to Kiyoshi that her overall goal was to set up a system for analyzing the causes of quality rejects. She could have laid out the benefits of that system, and then agreed with Kiyoshi to dial back her involvement once it was up and running.

But instead she left him guessing. Like interventions, heading off the syndrome requires bosses to really engage with employees. But if a manager still slips into it, there is always a way out, provided the manager has the awareness to recognize it, the courage to acknowledge being part of it, and the willingness to initiate a conversation about the causes and the solutions in a factual and collaborative way.

That level of involvement is critical to helping employees reach their full potential. If you want the people in your organization to devote their hearts and minds to their work, then you must do the same.





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