Punish or Pamper?

On CBS Morning there was a piece titled Punish or Pamper. The piece was about how to maximize productivity in the workplace. Why is this an either/or issue? Is managing a team really just about punish or pamper? I don’t think so…

There are times when employees need and deserve to be pampered and conversely there are times when it is appropriate to “punish”. I’m not a fan of the word punish. The connotation is too negative, too divisive. Punishment is equal to “going to jail”, the adult version of “time out”. In business we shouldn’t punish an employee, we should coach them or in cases where coaching doesn’t work help them redirect their career.

The primary job of a manager is to create a work environment that maximizes the performance of every employee. To get maximum performance requires the manager to understand what motivates each of the staff, understand what their individual goals and aspirations are, what situations result in distractions and/or decreased performance, and what tools and support they need to be excellent and expert in their role. A punish or pamper mentality reduces the manager’s job to that of a surrogate parent, not an effective leader or even an adequate manager.

So, how does a manager become an effective leader?

Stop treating those that report to you as children; treat them as adults. Adults can make decisions and self-direct their efforts. Adults are held responsible for their decisions, good or bad, and for their actions, good or bad. Adults don’t purposely make mistakes and get away with them. Adults do make mistakes due to bad judgement or bad information. A leader always assumes positive intention by staff and uses mistakes as an opportunity to teach and coach.

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