6 Mistakes Even Good Bosses Make

Common perks and management tactics that don't work, according to some of the Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada

Written by Deborah Aarts

DON’T SET UNIFORM GOALS Arrow Professional Services Inc. (No. 2) used to take a cookie-cutter approach to establishing goals for its staff. Some liked that just fine; but for many, the goals seemed arbitrary, even irrelevant. Furthermore, employees had no sense of their individual impact on the organization. So, Arrow’s managers began asking employees to set their own targets. Result: engagement blossomed.

DON’T EXPECT INSTANT SUCCESS Engagement-driving efforts take a while to catch on—especially when they’re drastic transformations. Last year, BuildDirect Technologies Inc. (No. 10) rolled out a formal performance-management program. The company had little experience in using such tools, but “we like to set aggressive goals,” says CEO Jeff Booth. “We were probably too optimistic with the first rollout.” Still, the company stuck with it and is starting to see benefits.

Read: Who Are Your Most Disengaged Employees?

DON’T MICROMANAGE€¦ A bit of oversight is a good thing—but less is often more. At Protegra Inc. (No. 8), engagement soared after managers learned to back off. “Protegra teams have the autonomy and responsibility to do their own work in collaboration with other teams,”explains CEO Wadood Ibrahim. “As a result, they take on the challenge to do what they need to without hierarchical management structures in place.”

Jayman Group (No. 33), for its part, finds that managers who lead collaboratively—who exemplify “servant leadership”—get the best results. HR director Sunny Ghali sums it up: “Do leaders listen, and we mean authentically listen? Are they stewards to their teams? Do they remove obstacles and demonstrate?”

€¦BUT DON’T LET THINGS GO “LORD OF THE FLIES” Decentralized decision-making is a good idea that often fails in execution. Why? Leaders don’t equip staff with the tools and information to make responsible choices. iQmetrix (No. 40) has learned this lesson, and now ensures everyone gets coaching and advice.

Special Report: Fire up Your Workers

KEEP THE PERKS REALISTIC On-site massages sound great in theory: once a week, two massage therapists would provide half-hour treatments to employees chosen by lottery. But Intelex Technologies Inc. (No. 41) soon found these appointments, held in already overbooked meeting rooms, were getting in the way of work. Now, staff can still get massages—off-site but still covered by the firm’s group benefits plan.

DON’T JUST THROW MONEY AT THE ISSUE Achievers Corp. (No.11) has found that spectacular performance doesn’t necessarily come from a spectacular paycheque. The company’s engagement mantra: “Compensation is relevant, but it won’t solve the problem.”

Read the full list of Canada’s Smartest Employers 2014

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com