With this infographic, we’ll explore where popular culture’s villains have gone wrong and how the heroes went on to save the day

It’s no wonder that the good guys always win. Their managerial styles and approaches are infinitely more effective than their evil counterparts, who generally suffer a lack of foresight, an all-encompassing fixation on one sole goal and poor communication skills.

Conversely, superheroes and those fighting for good generally work well as a team, have clearly defined goals and experience minimal employee turnover. With this infographic, we’ll explore the performance management processes of each relevant villain and hero and see how they could have improved their chances of company success.

Performance Management Lessons from Epic Heroes and Infamous Villains

The villains – and why they failed

Darth Vader: Lack of communication and problems with goal-setting

Darth Vader, controller of the infamous Death Star and right-hand man to Emperor Palpatine, is perhaps the most notable anti-hero of all time. Though he certainly made a name for himself in the Galactic Empire, Vader was doomed to failure due to his evident managerial missteps. His two biggest failures were his poor communication style and the fact that he and his team had no clear, defined SMART objectives.

Rather than engaging in productive communication, Darth Vader ruled through fear. It should be noted that fear is never a good motivator for employee performance in the long run and severe punishments of mistakes prevent employee growth. Vader’s public use of the Force Choke would have demonstrated to his employees that he is not an approachable figure. Stormtroopers know not to approach their manager for help or advice, as they may risk provoking his wrath. This prevents them from developing fundamental skills, meaning that the organisation as a whole will never improve. Success and productivity far more likely when there is healthy communication and an honest discussion between employees and managers.

Vader could have improved company culture with the employee-owned SMART objectives. Had Vader collaborated with his team and allowed them to create their own goals, everyone on board would be on the same page regarding expectations. The goals would be Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Relevant and Time-Bound. Vader would have a better idea as to his team’s limits and capabilities, he wouldn’t have unrealistic expectations and the Stormtroopers would know how their performance was being measured.

The Joker: High employee turnover

The Joker is ruthless, determined and fixated on his goals. He can organise a bank heist and generally has no shortage of employees to help him in his evil endeavours. Unfortunately, it was evident from The Dark Knight that the Joker has extremely high staff turnover. When an employee has served his purpose, he is generally… disposed of. This is something that won’t go unmissed by the remainder of his employees and the consequences of such high turnover can be devastating.

Every time the Joker takes on board a new employee, he has to spend valuable time training them up. One source states that it can take as long as one to two years to train an employee to maximum productivity, so it is unlikely that the Joker will ever see significant improvements in his team’s performance. High turnover rates can lower employee morale and engagement. It can also damage company reputation in the long run, meaning that it will get harder and harder for the Joker to recruit. Clearly, the Joker’s performance management system needs to be addressed and re-evaluated.

Lord Sauron: The anonymous, faceless manager

HR executives around the world are aware of the importance of management interaction in maintaining healthy employee engagement. In fact, it has been shown that managers account for a significant 70% variance in employee engagement scores. A Gallup poll indicates that consistent communication between management and employees is the basis of a good relationship. It doesn’t matter how this communication occurs; it can be electronic, over the phone or in person. What’s important is that managers make a concentrated effort to get familiar with their employees. This will have a significant impact on productivity and performance overall. With this in mind, it is clear where Lord Sauron went wrong.

Unfortunately, Sauron was never around. He couldn’t help employees with their problems, he didn’t discuss their pressing issues and he knew very little about his workforce. He remained an ever-present eye, overseeing everything but never really taking part. If Sauron had shown his face (the rest of his face, anyway) around the office, things may have turned out differently for him, but his anonymous nature eventually spelt out his own demise. Sauron could have solved this issue with regular one-to-one check-ins, which have been implemented by leading companies worldwide, including Accenture, General Electric and Microsoft.

The heroes – and why they succeed

Yoda: An appreciation for employee career development

Master Yoda is known as a legendary Jedi Master with immense power, despite his small stature. He is well-respected by his fellow Jedi and enjoys a high degree of loyalty. Yoda has a lot of managerial strengths that make him shine as a leader, but perhaps most notable is his emphasis on employee development. We know that Yoda personally trained Luke Skywalker and Count

Dooku. While not all of his investments paid off — and one notable character was ultimately recruited by the competition — Yoda was right to provide such hands-on training.

Every HR executive knows the importance of employee career development to effective performance management. Career development is essential to heightening employee engagement and, of course, the company benefits from a more skilled, valuable employee. Like Yoda, good managers should be on hand to answer any questions and give employees the benefit of their experience.

Batman: Demonstrates the importance of delegation

Batman, otherwise known as Bruce Wayne, is a billionaire and owner of Wayne Enterprises: a multinational conglomerate. Though Batman may be a reclusive genius, his biggest managerial strength lies in his ability to delegate responsibility — and all managers need to delegate in order to effectively lead. Bruce has other pressing responsibilities, so he takes a step back from micromanaging his employees and trusts them to fulfil their tasks.

This management style will become increasingly relevant in the years to come, as millennials look for a degree of independence and flexibility in the workplace. As long as employees are hitting their targets and performing to standard, managers don’t have to spend unnecessary time observing. Allowing this freedom will demonstrate the trust you have in your employees, which will have an impact on morale. Managers can keep up to date with employee progress using performance management tools, without needing to constantly be present to question the employee’s methods.

Gandalf the Grey: The master of employee engagement

Gandalf, a man of many aliases, successfully formed and lead the Fellowship of the Ring, a team that went on to save the world. Not a bad achievement to put on the CV.

The Fellowship was a small company of conflicting characters and personalities, but Gandalf used his managerial powers to bring the team together. He was able to get everyone on board and motivated, while uniting them in their desire to achieve their overarching company goal. Employee engagement was important to Gandalf and he was successful for this reason. Everyone on his team was passionate about their cause and keen to do their best for the company.

Every employee has a need of belongingness; the desire to be a part of a team. Great managers like Gandalf not only know how to make employees feel part of a team, but they are aware of its many benefits. Teams like the ones Gandalf constructed are more engaged — and engaged organisations have double the success rate of organisations with low engagement. They also have lower absenteeism and turnover. Given the lacklustre management style of Sauron, it is no wonder that Gandalf led his team to victory.

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