Bystander Apathy

Bored WEBIn his book, The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, Josh Kaufman describes a phenomenon he calls “bystander apathy.” In essence, Mr. Kaufman suggests that any project without a leader won’t get completed. He cites committees as a perfect example, as they often do not have a leader and a project can linger inside a committee literally for years. Your organization’s strategic plan can be met with the same fate without accountable leadership.

Many leaders believe that change needs to involve everyone, and that’s a good thing. However, handing responsibility for that change off to everyone or anyone besides the executive team is not so good. Change begins at the top. Further, executives must be involved and held accountable throughout the change process. Much of this begins when developing the strategic plan.

How to Prevent Head Spinning

Spinning Head WEBAn executive tells me he would be conducting performance reviews this week, including an employee we’ll call Betty. I asked how Betty’s performance affected him. He replies, it doesn’t. I probe further, and as it turns out, Betty is a direct managerial report of his who, in turn, manages about 12 employees including a couple of assistant managers.

He continues this dialogue by stating that if it was up to him, he’d clean house and fire everyone because, Betty had given most of her reports a score of two but that Betty is doing a good job. I expect my head to stop spinning sometime next week. I think it’s safe to assume that this executive has no performance management program (PM) in place. What if he did? What would a PM do for him, his reports, and the organization?

Implementing a PM system can provide many benefits. An article by Aileen MacMillan serves to illustrate ow a PM benefits the organization, managers, and supervisors, and employees. For example, the article suggests such elements as accountability, performance, and productivity enjoy higher levels. Clearly, my executive friend could use these and more. So, what does a good PM system look like?