Managers that manage badly are always forcing their employees to justify their existence in a job. Rather than view their workforce as a resource to be praised and encouraged, bad managers are always trying to figure out how much more a given employee can take on before he or she reaches breaking point.

Typically, this sort of manager is to be found in those industries that have forgotten how to innovate, or whose product line has reached a plateau in original thought or innovation. Since life in the marketplace for these sorts of products is always based on cost, then every ounce of cost must surely be wrought out of every individual employed to sell them?

If this rings some bells with you as a manager, then consider this way forward. First, stop hounding the guys that are working for you. It achieves nothing in the long run except bad feeling. Second, do something more useful with your energies. Try to differentiate your product against the competition to see if there is more value added to the product than you are giving yourself credit for. Are you selling all the benefits and features of the design, or just competing in a head to head sales slog with the rest of the players in the field?

If after some soul searching, you find that you are simply in the engineering rat race, then try to figure out a way out. Either this could be through developing a new product yourself, allying yourself with a university to co-develop a product or commercialise one, or reselling some innovative product developed in the United States or Germany. Look for innovation.

When you have formulated your value added strategy, you will be able to enter the marketplace with a whole new outlook. No longer will you be in the `me too’ business. Yours will be a product that will be patented, original or have some value added. Value that you can charge your customers a premium for. Your employees will gain the benefit too. You won’t be on their backs and they will perform a lot better in the long run. The ball, as they say, is in your court!

Dave Wilson Editor