The politicians and certain sections of the media would have us believe the world is divided into strivers and the skivers. In my experience both exist in the world of work but they are the minority. In any organisation about 10 percent of staff are very ambitious, self motivated and talented and 10 percent are incompetent, over promoted and not delivering. The rest the majority are just doing enough, no more no less . They see no reason why they should volunteer for unpaid overtime. They have a lunch break and go home on time. They think "going the extra mile" is just another example of managers expecting more than they are prepared to pay for. They are not driven by ambition but by the need to pay the mortgage and the desire for two weeks in the sun. They are not trying to impress the boss by getting into work early or taking work home and they are not after extra responsibility they don't need the aggravation. Yet this is 80 percent of the workforce. As a manager you don't need to do much managing of the high flyers just keep giving them more work and new challenges and accept that they will soon be off to bigger and better things. The incompetent and difficult already take up too much of your management time. To be effective a manager needs to invest in getting the best out of the majority.
What tools do you have to get the best out of the majority? The annual appraisal doesn't offer much for this group, the high flyers get the recognition they crave for exceeding expectations and those under performing have it confirmed and documented moving a step closer to the exit. You have in your gift training opportunities which the high flyers are keen to access but hardly need where as those who are in greatest find any excuse to avoid, leaving little opportunity for the rest. The keen ones get the extra work and interesting projects they desire, the useless ones can't be trusted with anything but the most straight forward leaving the biggest burden on the majority. There is the opportunity of team building, trouble is high flyers are not team players nor are the skivers. So your best bet is one to one supervision. This means supervision has to be more than support and guidance starting with positive feedback this is where individuals start to feel valued, get inspired and see their contribution to the future. Most people give of their best when they are happy at work and what makes people happy is getting on with your team mates and feeling appreciated by your boss.
Blair McPherson author and blogger on management and the public sector www.blairmcpherson.co.uk