I’m sure everybody reading this article knows somebody who can regale you with tales of a nightmarish boss. You might even be that person. Power trips, backstabbing, favoritism – some bosses, intentionally or unintentionally, purposefully pit their workers against each other so as to prevent anybody from potentially challenging their own position. Others simply don’t know how to manage their teams, and everybody winds up feeling as though they are headless chickens. All of these things serve to reduce employee morale and motivation, which in turn causes the business to suffer in the long-term. In this blog post I will talk about things to avoid when managing your team.
Plenty of books have been written by managers, executives, and CEOs on the topic. In spite of the wealth of information readily available, a lot of bosses simply don’t know what does and doesn’t work. It’s not always for a lack of trying; some bosses aren’t taught correctly, or were promoted before they were ready. If you are, or soon will be, in a position of authority over other people, being cognizant of the failures and shortcomings of other bosses will help you become a better leader. The following pitfalls are some of the more common management errors that cause employees to feel dissatisfied with their jobs.
1) Not Following Through
Your word is largely synonymous with your perceived worth as a leader. Promising things to your team and then forgetting or failing to do them will destroy their trust in you as a leader. I once experienced this when I was hired as a supervisor for a new company. My boss did not work towards preparing me for the role I was hired for, and eventually failed to do it altogether. I eventually got the position when I went to her boss, but in spite of seemingly genuine efforts on her part to do right by me, I never trusted her again.
Don’t be that person. If you promise to train a person for a new position, do it. If you promise a certain project to a team, do it. If you say that you’ll reward your team for hitting certain goal and they manage to do it, give them no less than exactly what you promised. This will show your team that you deserve their loyalty and respect, which will make them work harder for you.
2) Showing Favoritism
I want to distinguish this from showing approval to performing employees. A person who brings value to your business has earned the right to be recognized and rewarded. Favoritism is differentiated by the fact that a boss is showing preference to an employee purely on the basis of personal matters. Sometimes they are a relative of the boss, or maybe they hang out after work together. Maybe the boss finds that person attractive. Whatever the instance is, that boss is giving that person more than they deserve, and it is incredibly unfair to everybody else who works hard and doesn’t get recognized for it.
It’s understandable that you might prefer the company of one person over another -some personality types simply mesh together better. But regardless of what your personal feelings are towards/against somebody, don’t ever let that cloud your judgement. So many bosses are willing to cut people they like slack and crack down on those they don’t. It’s quite obvious to all the people working under you who you do and don’t like. Being fair and impartial to everybody ensures that every kind of individual gets a fair chance to prove his or her worth. When you base your appraisals of a person on their results and not on personal factors, you get so much more from your team.
3) Basing Decisions on Emotions Rather than Facts
As a leader, you are ultimately tasked with doing what is best for the business. This can work for or against an employee. You might know somebody who got fired for a common mistake simply because they caught their boss (or their boss’ boss) on a bad day. You also might know somebody who should have been fired but didn’t because they conjured up a really effective sob story. Regardless of what your own temperament is, you have to be able to distance yourself enough to do what is right, not what is necessarily popular.
This should in no way imply that you shouldn’t show compassion and empathy with your employees. They are human beings too, and cutting jobs or funding to a department hurts them and their families, a fact that shouldn’t be ignored. Likewise, expanding your business can also be used to promote high-performing employees who have proven their value to the company. Just make sure that your decisions are always backed up with solid evidence and facts – as much as you might like or dislike somebody or something, acting in a manner that is contrary to the business’ bottom line will eventually catch up to you.