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Have your employees retired on the job?

Before he became the founder of modern credit card processing and Visa International, Dee Ward Hock noted his frustration with his inability to adjust to his work environments, and wrote that he decided that he would

make no more effort to climb the corporate ladder. . . . [Instead] . . . I would join the crowd and take up  what may be the most common career in modern organizations: ‘retirement on the job.’

See Dee Hock, Birth of the Chaordic Age (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1999) 64, as reported in Anthony J. Mayo & Nitin Nohria, In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Corp., 2005), 272-73.

Heed Hock’s words – take an objective look at your team and your management practices/style.

Have any of your employee’s “retired” on the job?  If they have, you may be the last to know – their teammates are already well aware of this fact (from picking up the slack).

Are you open to new ideas?  Do your employees have latitude to meet their goals and objectives ?  Have you created a culture of frustration, causing your team to give up and retire on the job?  If so, change your management practices, share your vision and reinvigorate your team . . . it is not easy to change your operating style, but the productivity gains will more than compensate for your pain.

But what if your management practices aren’t the problem?  If you have employees that have “checked out,” review your personnel policies,

  • Have you adequately set and reiterated expectations with your team?
  • Do you provide your team with routine feedback to avoid “surprising” them during annual performance reviews?
  • Do you have an adequate performance improvement program (PIP)?
  • Does your PIP program call for adequate documentation at key steps in the process?
  • Do you consistently apply and adhere to all of the steps in your PIP program . . . including creating and maintaining the required documentation?
  • More importantly, is your program hollow – do you apply it up to the point of termination but fail to take the final step of employee separation?

It is not enough that you have a written policy or program, often it is the lack of adherence and consistency in application that cause legal problems for employers.  Consistency in applying personnel policies minimizes the chance that you’ll find yourself in court defending charges of discrimination.  But more importantly you’ll gain the respect of those team members who have been quietly soldiering on during their teammates “retirement”–a priceless benefit.

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