Alignment to the right goals is critical to achieving business success. This ought to be the first criteria to audit when a business misses its targets.

Too often managers provide mixed messages to their staff. For example, though a manager may proclaim to want innovation, he or she purposefully or subconsciously, encourages the status quo. Result: a department that lacks innovative breakthroughs and instead wallows in the status quo while competitors zoom ahead.

People, yes, workers, are sensitive to what is being said verses what is being rewarded and psychologically being reinforced. It won’t take long for clever employees to discover that there is a misalignment at the management level if the manager is not him-,  or herself perfectly aligned to the stated goals. In other words, everything the manager says and does, from a gesture to a financial reward, has to support the stated goal(s).

My most entertaining observation involved a colleague of mine, an upper-level manager, who tried to convince her staff that she had an open-door office policy.  The misconnect happened every day. She had her desk arranged with her back to the door and kept her office door closed throughout the entire day…with a hanging sign that read: “Do NOT DISTURB!! ”  So, of course, few people on her staff and among our colleagues, ever wanted to disturb her.

Sloppy, undisciplined, ill-prepared, and ill-trained managers can easily slip up and unwittingly reinforce or financially reward the wrong behaviour. Reinforcing wrong behaviour begets wrong results. It really is that simple.

Audit the manager’s management style to uncover areas of mixed signals and confusion.

Outcomes are solely determined by what managers pay for and what managers reinforce both financially and especially pyschologically.

Failed targets result from failed reward and reinforcement systems.