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Consistency

November 24, 2009

Athletes who want to end their careers in the Hall of Fame need to have it.

Parents and teachers strive to provide it so that children will have an environment conducive to their growth and development.

It is “consistency”. Managers need consistency to be successful. Employees need a consistent environment to be productive.

There are a number of different approaches to managing, any one of which may be effective. None, however, will succeed unless it is consistently applied.

Dictators and delegators can, and do succeed as managers. It is generally understood that being an effective delegator will maximize managerial effectiveness. But let’s be honest, there are plenty dictators out there, and many are doing pretty well for themselves. In fact, most people would rather work for a benevolent dictator than for a manager who flips back and forth from being a delegator to being a dictator.

Consistent management is regular and predictable. It develops policies and practices that are supportive, goals and objectives that are reinforcing. There is enough change in the world. Don’t add to it unnecessarily.

People are always willing to do more and to show initiative in an environment in which they feel confident in the predictability of their bosses reactions. A consistent, supportive atmosphere will improve the possibilities for maximizing employee performance.

Don’t enforce some rules today and ignore them tomorrow. Not only will inconsistency of enforcement will be seen as being unfair, it will interpreted as having been premeditated and prejudicial. Nobody likes to be unfairly treated.

All employees compare the treatment they receive to the treatment that others receive. No one likes to see others getting away something they wouldn’t be allowed to do. Inconsistency that results in inequitable treatment is a silent demoralizer.

Employees are amazingly adaptable. They are content when they know what is expected from them, but don’t perform well when faced with an inconsistent environment. When the rules are constantly changing, the players lose interest in the game.

Well thought out and clearly defined organizational objectives form the basis for consistency in management. Once a company has defined who they are, “we are a low cost producer”, “we manufacture the highest quality”, “we stock and sell a complete selection”, organizational objectives will develop that will serve as a guideline for consistent management action.

When organizational objectives are used for determining internal direction, they serve as a guide to consistency in decision making.

Management initiatives in the areas of planning and policy formation are frequently undermined by an unwillingness of the managers themselves to adhere to the discipline that these plans necessitate. If you commit the resources, you must be consistent in the follow through. The inconsistency created when plans and policies aren’t followed through is damaging to morale and future progress.

Inconsistency and a lack of management follow through has much the same impact on employees as the “boy who cried wolf once to often” had on the townspeople. The next time management tries to muster a special effort, the heads will all nod yes, but inside everybody is thinking “here we go again.”

One day an employee approaches the boss with a new idea. The boss says, “go ahead and try it out”. No plan, no control, just go ahead and try it out.

A month later the boss gets the bill and hits the roof. “What’s this for, why didn’t you tell me it was going to cost this much?” Now the boss wants to be involved in every detail.

One minute the emphasis is on initiative, and the next it’s on control. How often does this need to happen before employees lose their initiative?

The larger the organization, the more important objectives become in fostering internal consistency. In smaller organizations, the personality and predictability of the boss is the dominant factor in creating a consistent environment.

While consistency is good, change is inevitable. All organizations must be able to adapt themselves to the changing marketplace. A consistent management approach is essential to successfully implementing change.

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