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When Your A-Game Employees Bring Their B-Game to the Job


by Glenn Shepard
June 27, 2017
Category: Management




North Platte, NE June 28
Lincoln, NE June 29

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Did You Know?

People who take 15-minute breaks every couple of hours are more productive.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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“Theory A” and “Theory B”.

In 1960, psychologist and MIT management professor Douglas McGregor proposed these two theories on human nature in the workplace, in a book titled The Human Side of Enterprise.

Theory X assumes that the average human is like the TV character Homer Simpson on The Simpsons. It states that people:

1. Have an inherent dislike for work and will avoid it whenever possible

2. Must be coerced, controlled, directed or threatened with punishment to get them to achieve organizational objectives

3. Prefer to be directed and do not want responsibility; have little or no ambition; and seek security above all else. All other things being equal, they work just hard enough not to get fired

Theory Y assumes is that the average human is more like the Energizer Bunny. It states that:

1. Work is as natural as play and rest

2. People will exercise self-direction if they are committed to the objectives

3. People seek responsibility and are not lazy.

Regardless of which theory you subscribe to, it’s an irrefutable fact that working hard is learned behavior. It’s something that must be taught by an authority figure in our lives, just as we’re taught how to tie our shoes and drive a car.

Just as good work habits can be learned, they can also be unlearned. There are common barriers that de-motivate previously highly motivated employees. While most management training (my own included) focus on what the employee has done to cause this, sometimes the demotivation comes from sources the employee has no control over.

One is the manager.

Even the most seasoned manager can become an impediment to their employees’ performance through things like:

1. The Peter Principle
2. Micromanaging
3. Not understanding why different generations expect such differing levels of supervisory involvement
4. The Hawthorne Effect

Another is a bad compensation structure, which manifests itself in things like:

1. Salary Compression
2. Salary Inversion
3. Across-the-board raises

So how do you remove these performance barriers? For starters, keep investing 5 minutes of your time into reading this newsletter every Tuesday morning.

To Your Success,


Glenn Shepard

Here’s an example of how differing generations expect different levels of feedback from you as a boss. A survey by Robert Half International and Yahoo HotJobs found that 60% of workers in their twenties want to hear from their boss every single day. This is an extension of having grown up with Helicopter Parents, who were heavily involved in every aspect of their kids’ lives. This is in stark contrast to fiercely independent Gen X, who grew up with much less parental involvement, coining the term “Latchkey Kids”.

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