Too Many Management Fads – So Little Productivity

There are many management fads that have entered the workplace.  They have positives and negatives for each business.  They are seen as fresh and performance enhancing.  All too often they become just one more failed attempt at doing what for decades, tried and true methods have shown us.

We’ve seen many fads regarding how to have a better workplace.  For example, we’ve had:

Fish! – make the workplace fun because fun means you get more done.  A fish market was used as the example.  If we throw our product back and forth, entertaining ourselves and our customers, everybody wins.  We coined the expression “Toxic energy dump” and decided that we could overcome this through fun.

Employer of Choice – This is when a business is described, or more often describes itself, as having engaged in practices, workplace culture, policies and procedures and an environment that attracts people and makes them want to work for you.  One of its goals is to reduce the cost of recruiting by ensuring many applicants who want to work for you.

Chaos – simply put, anything you do has the potential to turn into a chaotic mess.

And many more.

In total, none of these fads are necessarily bad.  Each can potentially stand on their own merits.  They did work for someone, some business, somewhere.  Yet as with all “boxed up and nicely packaged” ideas about how to manage people and the business, they don’t work for everyone and the philosophy surrounding them is not good for all businesses.

Adopting a fad as a part of your business usually results in the eventual abandonment of that fad and it being replaced by yet another fad.  Once upon a time, this was usually the result of “The Boss” having read a great article in a magazine while traveling.  The new amazing and gonna be successful process was often greeted by “I see the boss read another article on the airplane” type comments.  Nowadays it can just as easily be a Youtube or TedTalks video.  The outcome is the same.  Eventually, employees greet the new innovative idea with cynicism damaging any potential value before the effort even begins.

An example in-depth

I am not suggesting that ideas gleaned from research of some kind are bad.  On the contrary, I am saying that just because you read where throwing product back and forth between workers was a fun and excitingly successful effort by a fish market in Seattle it does not mean that it will work for you.  Let’s look at the idea of becoming an Employer of Choice, arguably the most sought-after goal promoted by many businesses.

Becoming an employer of Choice sounds incredibly positive.  The concept is based on the notion that everyone will want to work for your company and you’ll have your pick of the hundreds or thousands that will apply.

Simply and succinctly put, this large volume of applicants, possessing and not possessing the Knowledge, Skills, Abilities (KSA’s) that your business requires will overwhelm your recruiting function.  This will take valuable time, energy and resources away from the critical function of strategic talent management.

A Possible Solution

A solution to that would be to target the employee of choice.  How?  This process is built on a unique brand for your business that focuses on differentiating between the best candidates in the marketplace by having them self-select even before they apply.  That is the more focused approach that will ensure your business both attracts and retains the very best employee.  While not all will do this, and you will still have to weed through the unemployed applying for everything as well as those seeking sponsorship, these employees, in turn, will provide you with the necessary Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Experience, and Behaviors (KSAEB’s) to successfully execute your business strategy and in turn, make your business outperform its competitors.

How you do that, while seemingly simple, takes effort and skills.  It will involve your leadership, your line management and if you have it, an appropriately skilled HR team.

You want to develop and communicate a new brand for your business.  A brand that clearly states you are a high-performance organization.  That you value exceptional talent and that you provide them with exceptional pay and development opportunities.  You must demonstrate this value with your Total Rewards as well as other aspects of your business culture.  Further, you communicate clearly that you are not for everyone, don’t want to be for everyone and are not interested in employing just anyone.

The new culture emphasizes not only the value of your employee’s but also differentiates them from each other through targeted reward and recognition.  It involves strong metrics that focus on the ability of that workforce to execute the businesses strategy while creating a culture of accountability and performance.

This method isn’t new and it isn’t a fad.  It has existed for quite some time and has proven highly successful for those using it.  It is uniquely tailored to your business and unlike a fad cannot be duplicated.


Fad or performance – it’s your choice.