You have a great product, a solid vision and have hired a team of talented professionals. So why is it that morale low, productivity is lagging, and achievable sales goals continuously unmet?
The answer may be found in the way you manage. Take a look at the following list to find five common mistakes managers make that cost them colleagues, clients and credibility.
1 | Your directives are all over the place.
Clarity is the foundation upon which a successful employee stands, but too often managers hire someone with the skills to do a great job and then neglect to give them the tools to meet their potential. This often turns high-performing talent into frustrated and unhappy staff members, and with good reason; how can anyone meet expectations if they only have a vague idea of what those expectations are (or worse, they keep changing)?
Instead of hiring someone with a great resume and references, sitting them at a desk and leaving them with heavy expectations to impress you, do your part. Create a proper onboarding plan, introduce them to the team, company structure, goals and values. Give them an updated company booklet that outlines culture, dress code, holidays, code of ethics, etc. Let them know how you like to work and what your expectations are. Share your long and short-term vision and give them an understanding of how you see it unfolding and on what timeline. Finally, ask for feedback and be flexible. Initiative aside, it is up to you to set the tone and serve as a guide (read: different from a micromanager) through the process.
2 | You don’t do your part.
Is there anything more frustrating than working overtime only to have to sit and wait for deliverables from the person who asked you to meet their deadline? Perhaps, but this one is high up there. Here’s a fact no entrepreneur should overlook: You may not be “doing it all” like you did when you first started out, but working under the idea that hiring talent means that you no longer have to be involved in the day-to-day running of the company will destroy morale, if not your brand.
It’s true that the managers and team members you hire should be able to take the initiative without running to you every 5 minutes, but they will still need you to show up and do the work. Respond to emails and hand over deliverables in a timely manner, give clear directives, lead effective meetings and showcase transparency on a daily basis.
3 | You’re “nice” (but not honest).
Being kind is different from being nice. Being kind is telling an employee what you like about their work but also sharing ways they need to improve (and making sure they understand when they need to step up their game). Being nice is just smiling and giving compliments while silent criticisms dance in your head. The first often leads to the empowerment, mentorship and success of a struggling employee. The latter? Frustration, confusion and often the loss of what could have been a productive employee had you led with more transparency.
Instead of smiling (even while seething), have frequent one-on-one’s with your staff members and let them know what their strengths are while also asking them how you can help them sharpen their skills in areas that haven’t been up-to-par. Giving an employee the respect of honesty and asking how you can support them as they grow into better professional versions of themselves is far kinder than simply “playing nice”.
4| Your company culture sucks.
Does your staff seem happy and motivated or do they walk to their desk with a miserable look on their face and pop their headphones in? When you consider that we spend the majority of our waking hours in the office, it’s not hard to understand how small little changes in the way the office looks and is run can make a huge impact on morale, productivity, loyalty and happiness.
First, take a good look at your physical environment. What does it look like? Does your team have everything they need to succeed throughout the day such as adequate materials and facilities? Is there enough space for everyone to work and feel comfortable? Next, pay attention to the way the team interacts with one another and what messages you’re sending them. Are there inappropriate comments being made as “jokes”? Are you celebrating wins? How many team-building events have you participated in? You can see where this is going. The safer, more transparent and positive you make the environment, the more productive your team will be.
5 | You don’t give them room to breathe.
Show me a micromanager and I will show you someone with anxiety and trust issues. If you take the time to hire the right people, train them well and create an environment where they feel comfortable, there is no need to stand over their shoulder and interrupting them with a dozen questions and demands. Employees are also human beings so treating them like time-stamped machines won’t work well for you in the long run. Hire people you trust, give them guidance and then step away and allow them to do their best work for you. Once they have gone through their process, they can present the work to you and that’s when you should give feedback. Additionally, be reasonable. If someone is in the office a half an hour early or constantly stays late, don’t make a huge deal when they ask for a half-day to take care of something personal. Balance, mutual-respect and common sense go a long way when it comes to productivity and loyalty.
How do you feel you’re doing as a manager? What’s your best tip for others looking to up their game?