Sunday, April 01, 2012

Embrace the Meritocracy

In a recent episode of The Office (a show I once loved but has now gone so far downhill), a new manager walks into the office and on the first day does performance reviews where she just gives everyone raises since she doesn't know anyone or their skills. Sometimes it feels like companies do this all the time. Although promotions and raises are supposed to be based on production and hard work, many companies base it on other factors, and it's a shame that they do so.

This is not something new--office politics have been around forever--but the sad part is that in today's economy, it's better to be liked, than to produce. And, in some ways, that's fair as the sum is supposed to be greater than its parts and if someone isn't contributing to the "team" their contribution isn't worth as much. But the truth is that we all have some sort of metrics we get judged on and 90% of the battle should be meeting or exceeding those numbers.

But its rare that companies embrace that way of thinking, and it's a shame. Companies lose some of the best workers because they're too busy trying to make them brown nose their way to a promotion. We've all had bosses who rather hear how great they are and how much you can say "yes" rather than looking at your great numbers and how many times you hit the bell after a sale.

So how do companies change that? Embrace the meritocracy. You produce "X", you get "Y". Simple and straightforward. Special circumstances can always be made for people who go the extra mile but don't get the results that others get, but if someone goes the extra mile and produces, make sure that's celebrated. You want employees to know that you value their production and the best way to do that is to make sure those who make you successful, are rewarded handsomely. You do that by embracing the idea of being a true meritocracy.

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