Challenges For Managers

Most recently, two separate studies have shown a trend and areas for concern.

First, an INSEAD executive education newsletter poll found that 61% of people believe that the single biggest challenge faced by general managers is MOTIVATION ( how to get it, how to get staff motivated etc ); followed by how to gain market share in shrinking growth conditions, and vision ( defining it, strategising with it and leading the company by these values ).

Second, a Gallup poll taken has shown that disenchanted and angry workers now stand at 17% ( up from 12% ) from last year’s similar survey. These people cost the nation $5 billion in terms of lack of productivity, time-wastage and lower performance levels. See my newsletter relating to this in 2002 at :

The reasons given by the 1000+ people polled were :

  • poor employment management.
  • The study showed that one in every two Singaporeans has not received feedback on his performance in the past six months.
  • 20% or so polled felt that they were uncertain of what was expected of them
  • 30%+ felt that they were in jobs that were not right for them

How can some of these matters be addressed.

For starters, no one can motivate anyone. Motivation comes from within and is an emotion that precedes action. What can be cultivated and taught are tools in which one can use to become MORE motivated.

In any organisation, my experience shows that people are more motivated when their roles are clearly outlined. A team with mixed, sometimes contradictory roles is like a ship without a rudder and people will be pulling in different directions and second guessing each other. So first, clear up goals and roles.

Constant good communication
( both top-down and bottom-up ) is critical in day-to-day leadership and feedback. This ‘ C” is one of my FIVE C’s to great teams. This is not done sufficiently well enough. Remember, communication is about what is received and not what is delivered.

Right skills, wrong job? Short of quitting a job, employees could negotiate extra ‘ time’ in areas of their work in which they prefer to do. The more they prefer a task, the more they will practice the skills needed to be proficient at it. When I use the Team Management Systems work preference profiling tool in my programmes, it is clear at times that some organisations need to spend more time doing things in certain, different areas. A team that is skewed to doing more producing/executing work but needs more innovative ideas to succeed may need to consider allocating a weekly session to ‘ practice’ their creative skills or have more “yellow” meetings; yellow being the colour that represents Creativity and is expressed by a segment in the 8-part segment wheel that makes up this elegant work profiling tool. For more on TMS tools to help managers manage, see

Conversely, friction and unhappiness can be avoided if a person or team , thus profiled, can be given opportunities to do work in areas that they prefer – even if the bulk of their time is spent in job-critical areas not of their preference. This can greatly increase staff morale and motivation. When was the last time anyone asked you what kind of what you preferred to do?

There should also be a performance profiling of individual or whole teams using validated, quantifiable tools such as the TMS Team Performance Profile so address immediately areas which are lacking. This information should be presented in an unintimidating fashion to provoke a positive move towards change. This can help address those ‘ lack of constructive feedback’ complaints.

However, like all profiling methodologies, they are simply tools to an end. What is critical is creating a programme or process that will benefit an organisation in achieving specific goals where the profiles aren’t just looked at and than tucked away in a file – where the % of buy-in is high.