US - Unmotivated Employees

What’s more important: Happy or Productive Employees?

Today’s organizations may be the victims of the Peter Principle

“Employees like children will say yes to the instructions from their managers/parents, but actually imitate their managers/parents behavior“

Courtesy of careerhubblog.com
Courtesy of careerhubblog.com

It seems that in today’s companies the lines between politics and efficiency are blurred to the point where their own survival as a business entity is threatened by the so-called Peter Principle. According to Lauren Weber, a recent study found that “in 42% of the organizations the low performer employees are actually more engaged, motivated, and have better employee satisfaction scores, than the high-performance employees”.

While this may seem like a joke for many, we need to remember that in today’s political organizations, engagement means networking, opportunities for promotions, and increased influence in the company’s decisions and results.

Do you want Happy or Productive Employees?

Courtesy of todaystrucking.com
Courtesy of todaystrucking.com

This trend towards a focus on “engaged” could indicate a substantial challenge for the companies included in that 42% because of the increased threats and challenges brought in by the globalization movement. In today’s multinational environment customers can source their products and services from companies across the globe as easy as from those across the street. Because of that companies need to focus on their employee’s relative productivity levels and compare them to those of their industry peers and competitors.

If we consider that employee satisfaction it is one of the fundamental components of employee productivity, and by extension company productivity; there could be a substantial productivity hit if your “most satisfied employees” are also your “less productive employees”.

If that is the case in any organization, only two things could happen:

  1. The first is that your high-performance employees leave seeking other places where they could be more recognized, rewarded, and satisfied.
  2. Or that your high-performance employees learn from there less productive (but happier) peers to be more happy and less productive.

Meritocracy or Relationship Based Workplace?

(courtesy of saveenergysystems.com)
(courtesy of saveenergysystems.com)

Perhaps in today’s U.S. business, as it has already happened in today’s U.S. politics, the art of engaging, compromise, and belong, it is more important than the basic business principles. It seems that rewards and promotions are more available for those that excel in the practice of politics instead of actual job performance. Even one of the icon’s of today’s industry Jack Welsh recognizes that “Execution” or The Ability to Get the Job Done,  it’s actually one of the skills that were forgotten for many years in the U.S. corporations.

The problem is that today’s business structures generally reward more the ability to engage and play politics, than the actual job performance of employees. Many current and future leaders are either victims or examples of the Peter Principle when they are promoted to the level of their natural incompetence, and companies fail to identify or address this fact. If at the end they get the promotions and $$, why will anyone change the skills and abilities that help them accomplish their goals.

What is right, promotions based on meritocracy or relationships?

Meritocracy and personal productivity and results are generally verbally promoted by almost every single manager, as the fundamental basis for career success.

Relationships/politics is consistently shown by company actions as the true tool that can help you be promoted by focusing in networking and developing relationships.

Employees many times must decide between being a “team player, pal, good guy/gal” in order to be “accepted and promoted”; or being catalogued as “difficult, not a team player, negative” if they actually show their expertise by questioning popular ideas at work.

Still Considering that what is more important?

I let you decide… as they say, at the end money talks…..

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Jorge Mastrapa, PhD
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Jorge Mastrapa, PhD

Managing Partner at ICQ Consulting
Dr. Mastrapa is an internationally recognized author, public speaker, and cultural expert; with over 20 years of experience in the areas of culture and diversity, global leadership, and organizational culture.
Jorge Mastrapa, PhD
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