Description - Set-up-to-Fail Syndrome by Jean-Francois Manzoni
Just as kids are evaluated and put on a certain academic track from a very early age, so, too, are employees assessed and evaluated from week one on the job. Employees, like kids, often wind up "living into" the expectations set for them by those in authority, despite their true capacities. In the ever-present challenge of walking the tightrope between wanting to give employees freedom and needing to stay informed, supervisors go down one of two paths with each employee: controlling or empowering. If managers successfully negotiate this balance, the relationship and the employee typically thrive. However, as is often the case, managers can lose their balance. The set-up-to-fail syndrome (SUTFS) occurs with the balance tips toward control rather than empowerment. Whether they're aware of it or not, managers do not treat all employees the same. Their behaviour toward employees depends on the earliest perceptions of each person's performance. In particular, managers tend to behave in far more controlling ways toward their perceived weaker performers.
This behaviour often results in a vicious cycle whereby an employee gets discouraged by his manager's behaviour toward him and increasingly under-performs. Not only does the employee stop trying, but the manager loses an opportunity to fully utilise the employee's strengths. Once in this cycle, managers become unable to see the employee's behaviour through any other lens, which is a recipe for disaster. Building on The Set-Up-to-Fail-Syndrome article in Harvard Business Review (March-April 1998), Manzoni and Barsoux offer this powerful insight into a dynamic all-too-familiar to any manager: we set the expectations for those around us. When someone seems "on" we manage him or her with enthusiasm. However, in some cases, we find ourselves avoiding contact with an employee, micro-managing, and ultimately sabotaging an employee because the relationship has clearly gone south. The authors show managers how to recognise SUTF relationships, and most importantly, how to reverse them before it's too late.
The authors also show how managers can stay balanced and prevent this dysfunctional set-up-to-fail dynamic from the start, triggering positive performance spirals with all of their employees.
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(211mm x 140mm x mm)
Harvard Business Review Press
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
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Author Biography - Jean-Francois Manzoni
Jean-Francois Manzoni is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. His research, teaching, and consulting activities center on the management of change at the individual and organizational levels. Jean-Louis Barsoux is a Research Fellow at IMD. His doctoral thesis provided the foundation for Management in France, which won the Management Consultancies Association for Book of the Year in 1990.