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Do you have an employee whose performance keeps deteriorating--despite your close monitoring? Brace yourself: You may be at fault--by unkwingly triggering the set-up-to-fail syndrome. Perhaps things started off swimmingly. But then something--a missed deadline, a lost client--made you question the person's performance. You began micromanaging him. Suspecting your reduced confidence, he started doubting himself--and stopped giving his best. You viewed his new behavior as additional proof of mediocrity, and tightened the screws further. In The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome, Jean-Francois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux show how this insidious cycle hurts everyone: employees stop volunteering ideas, preventing your organization from getting the most from them; you lose energy to attend to other activities; and your reputation suffers as other employees deem you unfair. Team spirit wilts as targeted performers are alienated. But the set-up-to-fail syndrome doesn't have to happen. The authors provide preventive measures, such as loosening the reins as new employees master their jobs. If the syndrome has already erupted, Manzoni and Barsoux explain how to discuss the dynamic with your employee and reverse the cycle.
Jean-Francois Manzoni is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. His research, teaching, and consulting activities center on the management of change at the individual and organizational levels. Jean-Louis Barsoux is a Research Fellow at IMD. His doctoral thesis provided the foundation for Management in France, which won the Management Consultancies Association for Book of the Year in 1990.