Even the best managers can develop bad habits. Although many of them stem from good intentions, they can still have a negative impact on those for whom you are responsible. Forming a great team means understanding how to work best as a unit – and as the manager overseeing this team, your role is largely concerned with keeping things moving in the right direction.
By avoiding these three common managerial habits, you can ensure that you’ll have ongoing respect of your team, while continuing to drive progress within your organization.
1. Not giving enough feedback
“I don’t get enough feedback.” This is a common complaint that I have heard across the years as an executive coach. For ambitious professionals who want to continue to grow, not getting constructive feedback is often frustrating, because it can make them feel as though they are stagnating. However, many managers can be reluctant to provide feedback because (1) they’re more focused on getting the work done than developing their people,(2) they think it will make others uncomfortable, and/or (3) they think it will take too much time.
Like it or not, as a manager, it’s your job to help people to perform their jobs more effectively. And, without feedback, it can be difficult for them to know the little tweaks they could be making that would help them to achieve greater success in their current jobs, or prepare them for future roles. As an analogy, imagine if you were coaching an athlete, but never gave her feedback. Would she be likely to perform up to her potential? Of course not – and the same principle applies for anyone who wants to perform at her peak.
To ensure you’re giving enough feedback, be on the lookout for opportunities to give positive reinforcement when your employee performs well, as well as suggestions for areas to improve. Be as specific as possible (e.g. “When you told that success story, you really engaged that prospect in a great way.” or “When you used so many technical terms in your presentation, your audience seemed to be lost”). In addition, try to provide the feedback as soon as possible after the event occurs.
Finally, you might also want to schedule one-on-one sessions on a regular basis to discuss the individual’s overall career growth and developmental progress. This will show him that you care about his success, and help you to make sure you’re doing your part in terms of providing feedback.
2. Letting poor performers slide
Poor performance from particular individuals can have a detrimental effect upon the company. The effects on productivity are obvious – if someone isn’t performing up to par, the work suffers. However, the effects on the rest of the team are sometimes overlooked.
First, by not holding poor performers accountable, you are lowering expectations for your team as a whole. Although your highly motivated team members will likely continue to perform, those who are on the fence may be inclined to put in a little less effort. Further, you could be creating resentment, as your high performers might feel that you, as a boss, are not being fair in letting some people get away without pulling their weight.
Therefore, the ‘domino effect’ of poor performance needs to be tackled at its root cause, which means keeping a close check on the performance of each member of the team.
Understandably, many managers feel that this could feel like nitpicking or placing blame – two activities which are rarely popular in the workplace! However, with the right approach you’ll be able to tackle poor performers while simultaneously motivating them to excel, providing a more positive take on the entire process.
One approach is to use continuous goal-setting with each member of the team, with regular check-ins to see how things are progressing. This will allow you to clearly identify any culprits who have adopted bad habits, and help steer them in the right direction before things spiral further.
You’ll also need to get more comfortable providing feedback in general. Again, while most people don’t relish providing constructive feedback, if you’re not doing it, you’re not giving the person an opportunity to improve. If you perceive the underlying issue as skill deficit, have a developmental mindset, and aim to make it a supportive process rather than overt criticism. Few employees want to feel as though they are under attack, and all too often this is what discussions around productivity and performance can feel like.
However, if the behavior isn’t improving across time, or if the root cause of the poor performance seems to be an attitude issue, you might need to take steps to help the person to find a role that is better suited to him or her. Admittedly, no one enjoys having to do this, but sometimes it’s necessary for the productivity and morale of the rest of the team.
3. Failure to delegate
Micromanagement is the bane of many team members in organizations of all sizes. It inhibits growth, squelches creativity, and can reduce the sense of pride of ownership from successfully completed a task.
So why do managers do it? There are a number of excuses that leaders make for it, including the beliefs that no one else can do it as well as they can, and that it takes too long to assign tasks to others. This can have a dramatic impact on team motivation, as well as causing the manager in question to burnout under the stresses and strains of carrying out numerous roles at once.
If you want to be a great manager, get to know your team well enough to understand where they can be put to work most effectively, and tasks you can delegate in order to stretch and challenge them. This will not only help them to feel valued, but it will give you the time to focus on the bigger picture and drive the company forwards in the way which uses your own talents.