Image by lmproulx
If you are ready to read about bosses getting bashed…this is not that article. The following is more about understanding any manager will make mistakes, but there are some pitfalls even the best intentioned ones can fall into if they are not careful. Hopefully, these insights may help those on all levels of the workplace ladder.
Very few are the workplaces which go untainted by partiality to family or friends in the fold. It is easily one of the quickest ways to draw resentment from the other employees. This does not mean a boss cannot be friendly. What is does mean is they must be on guard about personal relationships encouraging the hiring and promotion of incompetent loved ones.
2. Denying flaws and mistakes
Many managers fall into the trap of believing they must appear to be incapable of error in order to maintain the respect of their subordinates. However, pretending a slip-up never happened when it clearly did, mainly projects denial and self-delusion. Even worse, passing blame to someone of lower rank is one of the fastest ways to destroy any trust from them and any coworker they happen to tell about being scapegoated.
3. Require more effort than they seemingly put forth
It is understandable that different supervisors will tend to have different management styles. But regardless of style, an element which must always be present is holding oneself to the same standard to which employees are held. Admittedly, it may not always be that the manager is lazy. In those cases, the leader may need to find ways of allowing others to see those efforts without coming off as self-promoting. The aim is to keep morale intact.
4. Nitpicking about non-production related details
Running a tight ship may be annoying at times, but most can appreciate why it is necessary. However, it can truly become irritating when trivial issues are elevated to the level of questioning competence. Just as with any other relationship, the boss-employee dynamic requires the wisdom of knowing which battles are worth waging.
5. Patronizing those who are perceptive
We all understand any of us can be crazy some of the time, and some us are crazy all the time. Therefore, it is essential for supervisors to sometimes spin or withhold the truth in order to avoid needless drama. But if an employee shows no signs of being generally irrational or hostile, give them the benefit of the doubt. Giving them a spin story merely insults their maturity and intelligence. A prime example is to tell them a change is being made to benefit them, when it clearly is about benefiting the company. Some people actually do understand it is a business first and foremost.
6. Rewarding the biggest complainers
Every workplace will have its share of gripes and complaints. Some are folks just blowing off steam, but others may be quite legitimate. What will inevitably rub personnel the wrong way is when those who complain the loudest often get their way. A common symptom of this is a set of unspoken rules appearing to be in place for the person we all know will make a big stink about practically everything. Putting that person in their place will not only support overall morale, but is also a necessary part of encouraging growth and maturity. Otherwise, others will learn to follow suit.
7. Controlling information to project power
When having differences in authority, it may not be prudent to reveal everything to everyone. Things may need to be finalized and loose ends tied up before divulging who got the promotion or unveiling a change in policy. However, when the only real reason for keeping others in the dark revolves around reinforcing the power structure, unnecessary problems are created. Sometimes, appropriate transparency is the best way to squash rumors and distrust.
8. Refusal to delegate
A hard working superior is generally respected by all. But when they insist on doing everything themselves, it leaves the impression of either being a control freak or a glory hog. Levels of respect will especially take a dive when said manager then proceeds to complain about being overworked. The sign of a strong, confident manager is the ability to develop and nurture the abilities of those around them. It is also of great way of hanging on to quality workers wanting to take on new challenges and projects.
9. Failure to enforce accountability
Clearly this is not an issue for authoritarian types. It will always be an issue for those who place a high value on others liking them. Wanting to be well liked by subordinates is not bad in itself. In fact, people are more willing to do more for those they like. On the other hand, when the desire for approval begins to inhibit the ability to enforce standards, it is like shooting both feet. Those who are let off the hook will not respect the manager’s authority. The rest may resent the lack of structure.
10. Using fear as a primary motivator
From time to time, some people need a kick in the butt to get going. But generally using threats as the default method of inspiration will quickly drive morale through the floor. No one is happy coming to work when worrying about losing their job at any given moment. After all, one of the most basic of human psychological needs is the need to feel secure. And when someone no longer feels secure where they are, they will eventually find someplace where they will.
11. Budgetary hypocrisy
It is no secret that businesses must ultimately focus on the bottom line to survive. One way of doing so is to cut costs when possible. But what really grinds workers’ gears is the boss screaming “cuts, cuts, cuts,” while concurrently splurging on other unnecessary expenses. Most employees would much rather have the raise, than the overpriced retreat or holiday party. Bringing in new furniture is likewise a contradiction to the assertion of tight budgets.
12. Being too detached from the front lines
Almost nothing creates more dissension between higher-ups and those further down the chain of command, than feeling they have no idea what the day-to-day obstacles are for the staff. This will commonly rear its head when trying to institute new policies or procedures. Yes it may have been a good idea in theory, but it makes little sense when it comes to practical application. Even those who worked their way up can fall prey to this over time. The key is to spend some occasional time doing the Undercover Boss thing; just maybe not so undercover. Nothing builds respect like heading to the trenches every once in a while.
By Corey Dorsey