Saturday, September 20, 2008

Punishment rarely works for those who feel entitled

While reading a story about the Tampa Bay Rays this morning, I came across another article, this one about how an individual's failure to hustle or work hard affects those he works with.

According to one management expert:

"There are people in lots of workplaces who give the company [or their team] as little as possible . . . and still manage to succeed.  The problem is it's terribly demoralizing on others [their teammates] who are then disincented to work. It shows that rules and expectations mean little or nothing. Then many people reduce themselves to the lower level of performance."

So why do some people not hustle -- whether they work in accounting or play professional sports?

The article quotes an expert who contends that many younger people feel entitled, expecting more than they deserve. 

"They wanted Mister Rogers-esque coddling, and expected the corner office a few months in.   They do work hard, but it's typically when they see a carrot at the end of a stick. Effort for effort's sake is pointless.  No one really faults them for being lazy, but they don't realize that talent alone doesn't get you there. You've gotta run out the ground ball.  That makes the rest of us angry, especially when it's tinged with arrogance.  If someone's actually hurting the team . . . and they display an attitude of entitlement, that annoys other people."

The question for managers, CEOs, and coaches is "what to do with an underperformer?"

According to the experts, "punishment rarely works for those who feel entitled.  It just fosters resentment."

So when Rays CF B.J. Upton failed to hustle on a play last month (something that's happened in the past with Upton), Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon [pictured above with Upton] left Upton's teammates to decide the consequences, something "that can be very powerful,"according to one expert.  

"The teammates can be very tough on the guy, more tough than the manager would.  If his teammates say, 'Look, B.J., this is the right thing to do,' he's going to do it for the team. And this allows him to save face."

Said one Rays veteran:  "It's not in Joe's hands anymore. It's not in anybody else's hands but ours as players."

The following day, Upton apologized, saying, "There's no excuse for [the lack of hustle].  It can't happen, especially in the middle of a pennant race. Every run matters, every out matters."