Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Standardization Creates Mediocrity?

The post “Mediocrity by ‘Areas of Improvement’ ” on the Creating Passionate Users blog is marketing related because it deals with the marketing of motivation (yet again). Kathy Sierra talks about how performance reviews always stress “areas of improvement” and how, this is actually a bad thing. She says that in order to figure out where employees need to improve the managers first have to figure out their weak points. Kathy says that this is not really fair because they are not in a position to do so and also cannot evaluate everyone on the same set of values because all people and positions are different; or as she says “It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.” She then goes on to emphasize that fact that by pointing out people’s short comings it causes them to overlook their strengths and therefore make them fall short of their potential.

The story informs marketing because it discusses the idea of a bottom line. Kathy Sierra takes the idea that “areas of improvement” is not helpful to a new level by saying that it is not at all on target. She says that standards are often set too high because no employer wants to tell an employee that he/she is perfect and do not need to improve on anything, because then he/she will get complacent. Therefore, they pick on every little fault the employee has in order to give him/her something to work on, and therefore drives up the standards higher and higher to the point where they get to levels that are unreasonable and unnecessary. Instead, she says that if employees are rewarded for their skills they will be able to develop a much more dynamic working environment, instead of the stale generic box that is created through standard performance evaluations. This is especially important in start-up companies, where every worker must be able to achieve their full potential to really get the business off the ground.

This was another article that made me think about how to get the most out of employees. So much of literature on marketing now-a-days is dedicated to employee satisfaction because employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction and therefore higher sales and a better reputation. Therefore, it is really important to be able to know how to work with employees and think of better ways to motivate and encourage them. Even though creating new and creative solutions is much more time consuming and expensive, posts like this make me realize that there is great reason for these efforts to be undertaken. Even though it is a gamble to invest resources in systems like this it is the belief of Kathy Sierra and other scholars in the field that these are not only justified, but also necessary.

Kathy Sierra mentioned that it is important to have standards and evaluations tailored to the each employee, and while this is clearly the best way to analyze employee performance and improve the company I think it is a little too rosy. It is one thing to make several versions of an evaluation, or to invest more time and effort in employee critiques, but it is a whole other to think that there can be something special for EVERYONE. I think that this hits at the idea of diminishing returns; because yes, this would increase profits, but not by enough to cover the enormous costs.

Go here for the full article.


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