Mediocre management kills productivity

Many countries, such as Spain, has long suffered from very low productivity in comparison with other states in leading positions; there are many factors affecting productivity, and besides macroeconomics causes, this post focuses on “management” as a critical one.

The management quality of many CEOs and senior executives in certain countries is still characterised by an old-fashion style, where personal issues play a more relevance role than professional criteria. Such “mediocre management” affects employee motivation, business performance and at last productivity in any corporation. This pattern can be easily recognised because usually builds on two categorically wrong premises:

Information is power. This concept (first used in 1597) lacks from any logic in modern organisations, yet many mediocre managers believe that control of information is something “good”. The underlying reason for this behaviour is normally related to strong fear and insecurity that makes mediocre managers retain knowledge to preserve their status; it is a way to justify their meaning in the organisation. We may all agree that not all the information needs to be available for everyone, however this should not be made with the purpose of gaining power, but making more efficient the whole ecosystem.

Basic information is required to ensure an engagement-led culture in any organisation, which will make the whole environment more productive (unless otherwise we want to run a company of idiots). Concisely, basic information consist of:

  • Big picture information: which relates to the purpose and goals of the organisation. For example: where are we heading? What is the long-term strategy and how can I deliver it?
  • Feedback information: which relates to how do you fit in the purpose of the organisation and haw can you continue doing so? For example: how am I doing? How can I improve? How can I better help meeting the organisational long-term objectives?
  • Operational information: which relates to the day-to-day organisation of the activity. For example: who reports to whom? Who is responsible for what? What is my level of responsibility and decision?

Management is a superior stage. Mediocre managers have an exaggerated feeling of self-importance that makes them believe they are superior to others. This results in behaviours such as: having difficulty to delegate on others (they only trust submissive people that will not threat their status or challenge their views), making themselves inaccessible (their hierarchical mind-set makes them available only to a very limited circle of people they trust), or never congratulating anyone for their success (they are unable to feel happy for the success of others). Beyond this superiority complex, there is an obvious inferiority complex that makes mediocre managers delusional and unable to bring out the best outcomes out of people.

These two principles reflect part of the poor qualities of mediocre management, and broadly speaking drives organisations into a culture where personal-based decisions are more frequent than professional-based decisions, resulting in less productive ecosystems. Besides the great business and social achievements made by Spaniards over the last decades, management quality is still a key issue that needs to be addressed if we want to achieve a better position in terms of social wellbeing and international leadership.