I can not help but wonder if there is a Six Sigma tool for managers to use before they decide to administer discipline or impose a behavior intervention to a poorly performing employee. Management style is one of the key factors affecting high employee morale, optimum functioning and low turnover. When high morale is present, process improvement initiatives are embraced by employees and capacity increases. Seems some managers still have not learned this universal truth.

In the private sector the owner of a company does not have to be nice or effective, he or she owns the company. Long term it is possible for ineffective management to survive if there are mitigating influences among other senior managers. If you read Henry Ford you see very clearly that he believed that if the owner cares about his employees capacity will increase and be sustained.

More difficult to accept are managers in the public sector who think the department they manage belongs to them. They think they can step on, yell at and or berate employees without consequence. They were appointed by the elected governing body and some believe they are immune to disciplinary actions for poor management decisions or unethical confrontation/intervention with employees. If a direct service employee publically or even privately criticizes a manager, some time in the near future that employee may receive a poor performance evaluation and the case to terminate will be opened. This will teach a lesson to the free speech expression in the workplace and further confine direct service employees to keep their opinions to them selves. In the public civil service environment this seems counter productive. Muda in six sigma speak, if managers are spending their time “going after” employees who is managing the department?

So what can be done when it is clear that a department manager is ineffective or disrespectful of employees? Political reality poses that some governing authorities protect its appointees without regard to the truth of their mismanagement or ineffective management style. It is the job of the governing authorities to confront this manager? No or maybe, that decision is up to the elected authority and how public opinion influences their decisions. But, in the interest of continuous improvement, a much better response is to set a clear professional expectation that self examination, at all times with all work related behavior, is part of the agency management philosophy. Then managers catch them selves on unethical or questionable actions, hopefully before the action takes place, and ultimately employee morale stays positive or improves and capacity increases with the other process improvement initiatives. If they never look in the proverbial mirror, well… I would like to think most do and really work hard to treat subordinate employees with respect.

That, in an ideal world of work, would be wonderful.

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