The worst things that a manager can do to (or for) their teams are to take actions that lead to decreased performance, a slump in engagement and increased turnover. This must be true because the most common reason individuals give for quitting their job is their immediate supervisor or manager. The other side of this coin is that the best supervisors, team leaders or managers help to create and inspire approximately a 25% increase in performance.
What actually makes the difference between an excellent supervisors, team leaders and managers is the relationships they build with their direct reports, through multiple daily interactions. Here are seven ways to screw-up.
1. Trying to be a buddy
It is nearly impossible to be both a buddy and a good boss. To succeed at leadership, supervisors, team leaders or managers abandon our normal desire to be liked. Appropriate and professional interpersonal relationships are important because they do, in fact, help to get the job done. Continue to take an interest in your direct reports’ lives, while maintaining the appropriate distance that allows you to gain their respect.
All supervisors, team leaders or managers have experienced performance triggers that sent them into micromanagement mode. The challenge is realizing that although it may seem easier to dictate every last detail (or even step in and do the job yourself), in the long-run this will only lead to unmotivated team members whose skills are flat-lining. In fact, research shows that when people believe they are being closely monitored on a task their performance actually drops. Particularly detrimental to team performance is the boss who does not investigate the details of an issue or problem before making a blanket decision to make major changes.
3. Being Emotional
When a supervisors, team leaders or managers is in a bad mood, everybody knows about it. The quality of counseling or coaching feedback become erratic. You do not want your team to feel as though their performance appraisals depend on the day you are having. Be careful not to be drawn into the mind games of a parent-child relationship. This could cause team members to avoid contact because they are uncertain as to their standing, or get into conflict which erodes performance and undermines the whole team’s morale.
4. Endless Questions
Many organizations employ coaching, but only a small proportion of them actually get it right. One of the most frustrating experiences for a team member is a coaching session in which their supervisor, team leader or manager asks endless questions of increasingly declining relevance. Alternatively, this is an excellent and appropriate time and situation to offer some answers based on their own invaluable experience.
5. Stifle Innovation
Rejecting ideas out-of-hand without explanation, going negative about why things can’t be done or defending the status-quo are excellent ways for supervisors, team leaders or managers to stifle innovation. The results are predictable and create team members who are bored yet afraid to experiment, salivate about being recruited innovative competitors, where creativity is welcomed and rewarded.
6. Withhold Facts
In turbulent time, ineffective supervisors, team leaders or managers may be tempted to either sugar-coat their messages or, don’t communicate at all. Team members can detect “spinning” which allows the “grapevine” to prevail. People who have trust in their organization are happier at work and more likely to stay there. That trust doesn’t come from senior leadership or an employee handbook; it comes from first-line supervisors, team leaders or managers. Inconsistent messages simply creates a lack of trust. Almost everyone will agree that a relationship without trust is doomed to failure.
7. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!
No doubt, you are familiar with the frenetic pace of business or organizational life. Supervisors, team leaders or managers are increasingly expected to deliver more with less so it’s no wonder “hurry, hurry, hurry” is the norm. However, the chief difference between effective supervisors, team leaders and managers is that they make the time to take a deep breath and celebrate successes before moving on to the crisis or project. With this short pause in the frenetic pace, team members feel less overworked, under-appreciated and more motivated to “gear-up” for the next sprint. Celebrating meaningful progress has a huge impact on a positive inner work life.
Exceptional supervisors, team leaders and managers bosses are not born that way. They have been fortunate enough to work for organizations that value investments in management development, and are confident that the return on their investment in staff is as important as a few cents increase profits per share.
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