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The High-Impact Middle Management System helps middle managers optimize performance by clarifying which actions improve performance and which do not. The system focuses on developing the skills needed to carry out the most worthwhile practices. As with many areas of management, the 80/20 rule applies. To develop habits that make the most impact, it is first important to understand the management assumptions that are not helpful and the actions that either work poorly or do not work at all.

Haneberg offers five valuable myths about managing people:

Myth 1:Employees Do Not Want Management. Although it is true that most employees do not like micromanagement, it is not correct to assume that employees do not want to work in a well-managed department. Employees expect and hope that their manager will show leadership, plan the work, and make sure that everyone is doing their job.

Myth 2:Performance Evaluation Systems Improve Performance. In most organizations, managers dread doing performance evaluations and employees dislike receiving them. Even though the evaluation system may promote discussions that clarify expectations, it does not always directly foster improved performance. Along with being ineffective, evaluation systems also take up substantial time and resources.

Myth 3:Employees Prefer a Sugarcoated Counseling Session to a Candid One. Managers often sandwich criticism between positive statements, but this technique does not work because employees see right through it. If a middle manager needs to counsel an employee, she should do so in a manner that is direct, clear, and candid.

Myth 4:Positive Reinforcement Is a Great Tool for Improving Performance. According to Haneberg, many positive reinforcement practices backfire because they manage behavior but do not optimize performance. Although employees do want to feel appreciated, practicing positive reinforcement does not accomplish this. When positive reinforcement is part of a deliberate practice, it feels fake and manipulative. Employees may feel insulted rather than motivated.

Myth 5:Salary Increases Improve Employee Motivation and Productivity. According to Haneberg, pay and other extrinsic rewards do not improve performance, nor do they increase an employee’s overall motivation. When lacking, or at an unsatisfactory level, these extrinsic factors can get in the way of employee motivation. Once they are at a satisfactory level, however, they have little or no impact on motivation or achievement. Employees want to be respected and included in meaningful brainstorming and problem-solving discussions. High-impact middle managers know that these things matter much more than gold stars, performance ratings, and other extrinsic rewards.

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