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Set-up-to-Fail Syndrome: Overcoming the Undertow of Expectations [NOOK Book]

Overview

Just as kids are evaluated and put on a certain academic track from a very early age, so, too, are employees assessed and evaluated from week one on the job. Employees, like kids, often wind up "living into" the expectations set for them by those in authority, despite their true capacities. In the ever-present challenge of walking the tightrope between wanting to give employees freedom and needing to stay informed, supervisors go down one of two paths with each employee: controlling or empowering. If managers ...
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Set-up-to-Fail Syndrome: Overcoming the Undertow of Expectations

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Overview

Just as kids are evaluated and put on a certain academic track from a very early age, so, too, are employees assessed and evaluated from week one on the job. Employees, like kids, often wind up "living into" the expectations set for them by those in authority, despite their true capacities. In the ever-present challenge of walking the tightrope between wanting to give employees freedom and needing to stay informed, supervisors go down one of two paths with each employee: controlling or empowering. If managers successfully negotiate this balance, the relationship and the employee typically thrive. However, as is often the case, managers can lose their balance. The set-up-to-fail syndrome (SUTFS) occurs with the balance tips toward control rather than empowerment. Whether they're aware of it or not, managers do not treat all employees the same. Their behavior toward employees depends on the earliest perceptions of each person's performance. In particular, managers tend to behave in far more controlling ways toward their perceived weaker performers. This behavior often results in a vicious cycle whereby an employee gets discouraged by his manager's behavior toward him and increasingly under-performs. Not only does the employee stop trying, but the manager loses an opportunity to fully utilize the employee's strengths. Once in this cycle, managers become unable to see the employee's behavior through any other lens, which is a recipe for disaster. Building on "The Set-Up-to-Fail-Syndrome" article in Harvard Business Review (March-April 1998), Manzoni and Barsoux offer this powerful insight into a dynamic all-too-familiar to any manager: we set the expectations for those around us. Whensomeone seems "on" we manage him or her with enthusiasm. However, in some cases, we find ourselves avoiding contact with an employee, micro-managing, and ultimately sabotaging an employee because the relationship has clearly gone south. The authors show managers how to recognize SUTF relationships, and most importantly, how to reverse them before it's too late. The authors also show how managers can stay balanced and prevent this dysfunctional set-up-to-fail dynamic from the start, triggering positive performance spirals with all of their employees.

About the Author: Jean-Francois Manzoni is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. His research, teaching and consulting activities are focused on the management of change at the individual and organizational levels. A citizen of Canada and France, Professor Manzoni worked with Ernst and Young before receiving an M.B.A. from McGill University (Canada) and a D.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Prior to joining IMD, he was Associate Professor of Management at INSEAD (Fontainebleau, France), where he founded and directed the INSEAD-PwC Research Initiative on High Performance Organizations. This Initiative was funded by a £5 million grant from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the largest corporate donation ever received by the school. Jean-Louis Barsoux is a Research Fellow at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. He received his Ph.D. in comparative management from the University of Loughborough in England. His doctoral thesis provided the foundation for Management in France, which won the Management Consultancies Association Prize for Book of the Year in 1990. He also taught at Templeton College in Oxford, where he co-authored two books with Rosemary Stewart on comparative management and the role of humor in business.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781633690387
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 2 MB

Table of Contents


Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome     1
When Common Sense Fails Us     17
Set-Up-to-Fail: A Vicious Cycle     45
Labels, Biases, and Misperceptions     67
Colluding to Collide     87
The Cost Iceberg     113
Blinders of Our Own Making     135
Cracking the Syndrome     161
Preventing the Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome: Lessons from the "Syndrome Busters"     197
Getting There     221
Notes     251
Index     271
About the Authors     279
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