Yes, being responsible is on balance a good trait to have, and yet managers sometimes entrust the more dependable people with more tasks, while not getting more out of the underachievers, let alone rewarding the dependable people with promotions, compensation or perquisites.  That behavior, which enables the poor performers, is the first of Nine Things That Make Good Employees Quit.

Let us enumerate the tactics the bad managers use.

  1. They Overwork (Cooperative) People.
  2. They Don't Recognize Contributions and Reward Good Work.
  3. They Don't Care About Their Employees.
  4. They Don't Honor Their Commitments.
  5. They Hire and Promote The Wrong People.
  6. They Don't Let People Pursue Their Passions.
  7. They Fail To Develop People's Skills.
  8. They Fail To Engage Their Creativity.
  9. They Fail To Challenge People Intellectually.

The intended audience for the column is managers in businesses where internal and external labor markets are more flexible than is the case in higher education, and yet the lesson to department heads and deans is present.  Over the years, I have written numerous posts about punishing people for being cooperative (error 1), and my griping about access-assessment-remediation-retention is all about error 9.  (If I wanted to be a special education teacher, I would have pursued that certification out of college, rather than a Ph.D. from a highly regarded research department.)  That blends into errors 6 and 8, although in my experience those errors interact with error 4.  There's money, or a new dean's, or provost's enthusiasm, for something promising, and then two or three years later, the money goes away or a new dean or provost comes in with a new enthusiasm.

And higher education, unlike a business startup, is a craft with time-tested ways of doing things, that ought not be constantly disrupted just because that's the latest business fad.  (And I have not yet begun to salvo on the folly of disruption.  That's coming, I hope sometime this year.)

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