I grew up in a blue collar town with a population of around 300 people. My parents had an acre-sized yard which meant cutting the grass with a push-mower, that wasn’t self-propelled, took a big chunk of my weekend time away. About 6 hours of it, if you include the trimming and weeding.

The reward after spending most of my Saturday doing chores was getting to play baseball. If the yard wasn’t finished, no baseball.

Every kid I grew up with had similar upbringings. You do well, you get the carrot. You do not-so-well, you get…um…the stick so to speak.

The thinking at the time was that hard work pays off, and that’s all you can control. You can’t control what others do and you can’t control your environment.  You can, however, work your ass off, and your word means everything.

Fast-forward a couple of decades later and I found myself being pressured to put one of my staff on a performance improvement plan. The person I had interviewed, and hired, was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He was naturally curious, unbelievably intelligent and also a good guy.

But he wasn’t performing “as expected” to my boss and his peers. “Jason, you have to do something about this!”, they’d say.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I did what any unskilled manager would do. I gave him a period of time to shape up, or ship out.

And I hated every. single. second. of that conversation.

After two weeks, I was pressured into letting him go. I won’t forget that conversation, the look on his face or how shitty I felt.

The lesson I learned is that apparently this is what being a manager is like. You monitor how people perform and take corrective action when necessary. You don’t coach, mentor, trust or enable employees to grow, you simply don’t let them play baseball when the grass isn’t cut.

Many people, including Dr David Rock and Daniel Pink have written about the harm performance management does and how the carrot and stick method is not relevant for managing knowledge workers.  What we know about motivating people dates back to 1911!. Nineteen-Eleven!!

The Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that over 7 million new ‘Creative Class’ jobs will be created over the next decade and today’s management methods are not equipped to handle it. Today’s managers need new ideas and practical practices for energizing their people, and empowering their teams.

You can learn how to lead a creative workforce at our upcoming 2-day workshop in Toronto on May 19th. You’ll spend 2-days with your peers learning practices you can apply the very next day:

  • How can you understand what motivates your staff?
  • How can you build a better performance management system despite your HR constraints?
  • How can you expand the electric fences in your organization to let your teams grow?
  • How can you build a continuous improvement and growth mindset by leading by example?

We’ll explore the answers to these questions with 2 days of deep conversations and a whole lot of fun exercises and simulations!

Leading a Creative Worksforce