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Game of the Month Lowballed Baseline

Lowballed Baseline

Base_inicial_subestimada_-_low_balled_baseline_1In Lowballed Baseline, a manager steps into a new role—after joining the company or after being transferred or promoted—and immediately starts telling people that the department is in bad shape financially. By disparaging his predecessor, he sets low expectations that he is able to meet
or exceed, thus appearing to have “turned things around.” Some managers are highly skilled at playing this game, shading the facts just enough that their pessimistic projections feel accurate. They may well enlist others in this game, encouraging their direct reports to help them slant the facts negatively. A great deal of effort goes into creating this low baseline, and therefore not much effort has to be expended on actual work, as anything above the baseline will be considered a success.
Example: Elena was a new manager who joined a company that had just gone through an acquisition, and she was given a position of responsibility within the acquired group. Elena declared that the unit was a “mess”—that given its structure, its personnel, and its products, there was no way it could come close to the CFO’s financial projections for it. She seized on one negative factor—that a few people resigned
after the acquisition—and talked about how these were “indispensable” individuals and that the loss of their knowledge and expertise would make it impossible to operate effectively until new people were hired and trained. In fact, the people who left were B and C players, but Elena did a masterful job of portraying them as A players.

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Games of the Month

Token Involvement

To play Token Involvement, a manager conducts opinion surveys, focus group, or involvement meetings to communicate that "your opinion matters", but these activities are done only to make people feel involved rather than actually to involve them. The real intention is just to get rid of the complaints and for managers to show their management that they´re doing the "right" thing-involving their people in the decision-making process. The same game is played when leaders involve their direct reports supercially, soliciting their views on department strategy but relying exclusively on their views on department strategy but relying exclusively on thei own view. Cynicism becomes employees´ultimate response to this game, and they lose respect for management. Perhaps evens worse, when management really needs employees to be committed and contribuing to a major project, they have great difficulty securing this involvement.


Praise for Games at Work

jacopoA terrific read not only for senior leaders and executives but also for employees seeking growth in complex organizations. Goldstein and Read dissect the interpersonal dynamics that affect a company’s performance, provide a framework to understand the games that are commonly played in businesses around the world, and offer practical tools to correct these behaviors and improve the organization’s effectiveness.

Jacopo Bracco Executive Vice President DIRECTV Latin America

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