A few years ago we were studying a dozen front-line supervisors at a large telecommunications company in North America. These supervisors had been selected because of their widely recognized ability to motivate the people they worked with -- emotionally as well as rationally. Their people simply did not ever want to disappoint them. The managers counter-intuitively simplified the guidance they received from HR into a singular focus on making people take pride in their day-to-day work. As we came to understand what they did that most "good managers" did not do, we realized that this was a learnable skill. What they did could be captured in a few simple behaviors.
When we shared these behaviors with the CEO, he became impatient. "This seems pretty straightforward -- so why don't more supervisors do this stuff?" he asked. At first we suggested the obvious: faulty recruiting, selection, training, incentive and performance management programs. His response stopped us in our tracks:
Management Training: Spreading Critical Behaviors "Virally"
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