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10 Ways To Be The Manager Other People Want To Work For

Here are 10 ways to make yourself the manager that other people want to work for and to become a great role model for your team.

  1. Manage your time well and don’t make others suffer because you’re disorganised, e.g. by dumping work on them at the last minute.

  2. Give people realistic deadlines for work. Don’t say things are urgent if they’re not or they won’t believe you when something really does need to be done quickly.

  3. Make sure people know where you are and can contact you if you’re out.

  4. Delegate – don’t keep work to yourself which others should be doing – they’ll end up underskilled and demotivated. And don’t just delegate the rubbish that you don’t want to do!

  5. Accept good ideas, whoever suggests them. Don’t reject an idea because it wasn’t yours – and don’t take credit for someone else’s ideas either.

  6. If something goes wrong, discuss why it happened and how to prevent it happening again. Don’t shout and blame people or they will just hide their mistakes and you won’t know until it’s too late.

  7. Deflect pressure from your team, don’t pass it on. You’re paid to deal with it – so deal with it.

  8. Give people regular, constructive, motivating feedback. Catch people doing things right and give them credit for it. Praise in public and criticise in private.

  9. Don’t organise meetings when there’s nothing to discuss. Only have a meeting when you need one, have an agenda and keep it short and to the point.

  10. Never say things like “there is no ‘I’ in team”,  ”work smarter, not harder”, “think outside the box”, “pushing the envelope”, “the elephant in the room”, “blue sky thinking” or use words like “ideation” or “disincentivisation” as if they actually mean something.

Stick to these simple guidelines and you’ll be loved and respected by everyone who works for you (honestly)!

How to Spot The Signs Of “Reluctant Manager Syndrome”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, most people become managers by being good at something else.

Take me, for example. I never applied for a job as a “manager” in my life, but I’ve ended up managing other people in lots of different circumstances. And no-one ever mentioned that this would be a major part of the job, it just came with it.

I thought I was going to be a Tax Inspector, then a Tax Consultant, then a trainer in the Learning Team. But, all the while, I was actually supposed to be a manager.

So I have some sympathy with people who suffer from “Reluctant Manager Syndrome” or RMS as I’ll call it. And I can spot the signs. Because I used to suffer from it as well.

RMS occurs when someone has a job which involves managing other people but tries to pretend it doesn’t. He or she tries to ignore the “managing” bit and just do their “proper” job, which is the one they thought they were meant to be doing and probably the one they were trained for.

The main signs of RMS are:

  • focusing entirely on your own work and and not keeping an eye on other people’s
  • still thinking you’ll be judged on your own results and not on the performance of the people you are meant to be managing
  • ignoring staff issues until they become crises which you can’t ignore any longer
  • not giving feedback or developing people to help them perform well, only commenting on their performance when something goes wrong
  • not giving any leadership or direction, just reacting to things which blow up and force you to attend to them
  • not delegating work to people who could help you and develop their skills at the same time
  • in severe cases, not knowing the names of anyone in your team or even recognising them when they pass you in the corridor

What is to be done about RMS?

RMS is largely a problem of attitude, but it’s also a question of skills. In some organisations, new managers aren’t given enough training to help them cope with the situations they are now expected to deal with, e.g. giving feedback, delegating, developing people, building teams.

It should be obvious, but being good at something you’ve trained for, e.g. being a lawyer, accountant, consultant, nurse or teacher doesn’t make you good at managing other people. That involves a whole new set of skills. And, in some cases, people are still just expected to pick those skills up as they go along. But why should they? They didn’t pick up their other skills without any training or help.

The other consequence of not having the right training, apart from not developing the necessary skills, is that people then get the message that the “managing” part of their job isn’t valued. If the organisation doesn’t bother to train them for it, how can it be important?

So a lack of training can contribute to the problem. This is particularly true at the moment, when times are hard, and some businesses see management training as “non-essential”.

People also need to have it made clear to them, when they take on a management role, that this is exactly what it is, a management role. A major part of their job is going to be to lead, supervise, motivate and develop a team. And they will be judged on how well they do that, not just on how they carry out their own specific tasks.

So they should be given support to help them become effective managers, but they should also know that their own performance reviews will now be concerned more with their management and interpersonal skills than they were previously.

When selecting people for management roles, clearly organisations need to look at their management potential as well as their individual skills.Of course, many do just that but some still don’t do it enough. There’s sometimes an inevitability in the career path that, if someone gets to be good enough at whatever they do, they will eventually rise to a management post.

So I think it’s a mixture of clarity, support, encouragement, and training which can help people to overcome RMS. If identified early, it can be treated but don’t wait too long or the problems will spread!

For great management tips, get your FREE copy of The Book Of 100 Management Tips from www.manageleadsucceed.com

What’s The Best Management Style?

I am sometimes asked the question, ” What’s the best management style? ”
 
Often, quite new managers will ask this because they want to know what works best.
 
Of course, the answer is ” it depends “. There is no one style which suits all people and all situations. The most effective managers and leaders find ways to adapt their style. For example, it’s often said of Sir Alex Ferguson that he knows which players need an arm round the shoulder and which ones need a kick up the backside.
 
Management styles range from the autocratic ( telling people what to do ) to the democratic ( consulting people, asking their opinions and giving them a lot of freedom to do things in their own way ).
 
A lot of managers like to think they’re more democratic than autocratic, partly because no-one wants to be thought of as a tyrant. But it’s not always wrong to tell people what to do. Sometimes people need direct instructions, sometimes you don’t have time to consult or discuss, sometimes you don’t need to because people know what to do.
 
Here are some things which will influence your management style.
 
Your personality
 
• your general attitude to other people and usual ways of dealing with them
• your confidence in your own ability
• how strongly you feel you must exercise your authority
• how secure you feel in certain situations
• your previous experience of management
• how much you trust the team
 
When you first start to manage people, you will probably try to ” be yourself “, by which I mean you will just deal with them in your most natural way. You will find that this works with some people but not others. Some people won’t respond well to your usual approach, particularly people who aren’t like you, so you will have to find other ways to deal with them.
 
The team
 
• the team’s knowledge and experience
• how ready the team is to accept responsibility
• how prepared the team members are to support each other
• the team’s commitment to the objectives
• whether the team prefers to be directed or guided
 
An experienced team may need little direction, you may feel you can trust them to do what is needed. You may also feel you can include them in discussions about what to do.
 
But it’s not always true that an experienced team want to be consulted. Sometimes they just want to be left to do what they’ve always done in the way they’ve always done it. Or they may feel that it’s not their job to make decisions, it’s yours, so why are you asking them?
 
The situation
 
• the culture of the organisation
• time constraints; time pressure may not be conducive for consultation
• only the manager may have experience of the situation
• the seriousness of the situation – the consequences of failure
• the degree to which the situation will affect the team
 
In situations where you have little time and where the outcome is particularly serious for the team or the organisation, you may not have the luxury of debating and discussing options. At times you will have to make a decision ( and hope you’re right ) and direct your team.
 
Also, some organisations have a strong management culture which will affect people’s expectations of how you will treat them. If you want to change this approach, it can take some time and you may meet some resistance at first.
 
All these things will affect the way you deal with people and how you develop your style as a manager. The trick is to be flexible and not to expect the same approach to work with all people in all situations. As you can see, it’s not easy making the right decision and there’s no general rule.
 
Which is why I can’t give a simple answer to the question, ” What’s the best management style? ”

For more great management tips, get your FREE copy of The Book Of 100 Management Tips from www.ManageLeadSucceed.com

What To Do When People Don’t Agree With You

I’ve had a few questions recently about how to handle situations where people who work for you don’t agree with what you’re saying. It’s something I’ve come across myself in the past and I think there are some interesting points to consider here.
 
When might this issue arise? Two situations are very common.
 
You might be a team leader and you set out some ideas or plans for your team in a meeting. Then you find that some of your team don’t agree with what you’re proposing or what you’re asking them to do.
 
Or you might be giving someone feedback about their performance and they disagree with your assessment of how they’re doing and don’t accept your comments.
 
The first question might be – why do you need people to agree with you anyway?
 
Well, in both cases, it would be better if the people involved did agree with you because then they would be more likely to take the action you want. They would be more committed to it and more likely to see it through.
 
Of course, there are things you can do to try and get agreement – using influence and persuasion, giving your reasons clearly and allowing discussion of the issues, allowing people to come up with their own ideas ( or think they have ), etc. But I’m not so concerned here with how you try to get agreement, I’m looking at what happens if you don’t. Because, whatever you do, some people will still disagree.
 
In the first example, you’re setting out a course of action for your team and someone doesn’t think it’s a good idea. I’ve had this happen to me on more than one occasion in the past.
 
First, accept that you’re not always going to get complete agreement, In fact, it’s highly unlikely. If you’re a manager you have to make decisions. As soon as you make a decision, you’ll find someone who doesn’t agree with it. That’s life, accept it.
 
But be clear when you discuss any decisions with your team whether you’re informing them, consulting them or actually involving them in the decision making process. These are very different things but can sometimes look the same and this can cause confusion.
 
If people think they’re being asked to help make a decision or are being consulted about something, but then find the issue has already been decided, they can feel resentment. This leads to more resistance if they don’t agree with the decision. So be honest and straightforward with people about what’s happening.
 
Next, your main concern is to make sure people are clear about what’s being asked of them and to be sure they will do their best to carry that out, whether or not they agree with it. In other words, you need to set out your expectations and ask people to carry out their roles to the best of their ability to help make the chosen course of action successful.
 
One of the senior people I used to work for had a zero-tolerance policy on moaning and whining. You could discuss any issue with her and let her know your opinion but, once she made a decision, she expected you to carry it out and not go round complaining about it. That really made her annoyed ( and you didn’t want to see her annoyed ).
 
You should also expect people to show some team loyalty and not criticise the decision outside the team or department. This happened to me once when a member of my team started to make clear, in meetings with other departments, that she disagreed with the way we were going. I think this is highly unprofessional ( as I pointed out ). There’s a place to voice these things and it’s not in front of others.
 
The other situation I mentioned is where you’re giving someone feedback on their performance and they don’t accept what you say.
 
Firstly, never give feedback unless you have clear evidence to support what you’re saying. If you can’t give an example to back up your point, don’t make it. So all your feedback should be supported with examples to illustrate your points.
 
Use the EEC Model – Example, Effect, Change – to set out exactly what the person is doing, what the impact of that behaviour is and how you need them to change in future.
 
If you do this, you will at least be clear in what you’re saying to them. They still may not accept it, but they should understand it. In particular, they should be very clear about what you’re looking for from them – what behaviour do you expect?
 
They also need to be clear about the consequences of not complying with this. What will happen if you don’t see any change?
 
They may have an opportunity to record their differences – some forms used for performance appraisals allow people to give their own comments. But this doesn’t change the fact that you are in a position to monitor their performance and it’s your opinion that matters. Again, you’re making a decision, a judgement, and it won’t always be popular.
 
So my main advice would be – try to get agreement where you can but accept that it won’t always be possible. Accept that you’re there to make decisions and others won’t always agree. But they should still be expected to do their best to carry out the decisions you’ve made – that’s their job. Set out your expectations and be as clear as you can so that people understand what you want, even if they don’t like it.

I’d love to know what you think so please leave a comment.

For more great management tips, get your free copy of “The Book Of 100 Management Tips” from www.manageleadsucceed.com

12 Habits Of Highly Offensive Managers

Here are 12 things which, based on my own experience and countless conversations with people over the years, seem to be common characteristics of poor managers. I’m sure you’ll recognise them – and you will probably have your own to add to the list!
 
1. They mismanage their time, then drop work on you at the last minute, saying, ” It’s urgent ” and insisting you stay late to finish it because, ” It has to go out today “.
 
2. Or – they tell you something is urgent and you have to drop everything to do it, then you find it gathering dust on their desk a week later.
 
3. They go out without telling anyone where they’re going or when they’ll be back. They arrange a time and day to see you to sign some work off, then you find they’ve taken the day off.
 
4. On the other hand, if you leave work for a moment, they send you a stream of texts/messages/emails demanding to know where you are and asking stupid questions which you can’t answer because the information is at work – even though you told them weeks ago you would be out and you left clear instructions about everything you were working on before you left.
 
5. They ask people for ideas ( ” we’re a team ” ), then pass them off as their own ( if they work out )
 
6. Or – they blame everyone else for anything which goes wrong, even if it was their idea in the first place and everyone told them it wouldn’t work.
 
7. If they’re put under the slightest pressure from above, they pass it straight onto everyone else – because, ” we’re a team “.
 
8. They only delegate work they don’t want to do themselves and then they drop it on you without briefing you properly or giving you the support or resources you need to do the work.
 
9. Or – they delegate work to you, then send you constant emails checking that you’re doing it ( and that you’re doing it exactly the way they would have done it ).
 
10. They only ever give you feedback if you’ve done something wrong and then they shout at you in front of the whole team.
 
11. They organise meetings when there’s nothing to discuss, then waste your time passing on useless information which you don’t need or you could have got by reading an email. Then they tell you how important it is to ” communicate “.
 
12. Similarly, they send emails to vast lists of people, regardless of whether the information is relevant to them, because their time is far too valuable to waste it sorting out who actually needs to read the stuff they send out ( and, anyway, they don’t really understand how to use the email system ).
 
Oh, and I’ve just thought of another one – they like to spout phrases they’ve heard like,” there is no ‘I’ in team ” or, ” you need to work smarter, not harder ” as if they actually mean something.

To  make sure you avoid the mistakes poor managers make, get your FREE copy of The Book Of 100 Management Tips from www.manageleadsucceed.com

Leading Your Team – How Much Should You Tell Them?

One of the things I would say is important as a leader is to be open and honest with your team. The honesty bit probably isn’t too controversial – after all, most leaders don’t set out to be dishonest, manipulative or deceitful ( with some notable exceptions ).

But what about the openness? What exactly does that mean?

The problem with being open is – how far does it go? Do I really mean that you should tell your team everything? Are there any things which it would be legitimate to keep from them?

Well, yes, there are things which you should be prepared to keep to yourself.

If you’re in a position of some authority or responsibility, it’s likely there’ll be times when you’re involved in discussions which are appropriate for your level but where it’s expected that the information won’t be passed on to everyone else.

For example, I’ve been involved in management meetings in the past where we were discussing possible promotions, redundancies, reorganisations, mergers and so on. In some cases we were specifically asked to keep the information confidential, other times there was just an assumption that we wouldn’t go back to the office and tell everyone what we’d just been discussing 

This can be difficult, especially if your team know that something’s going on and they’re desperate to find out more. 

I know I’ve been in that position as well, knowing that people above me were discussing major changes and feeling worried about how they would affect me and my future. 

I also know from experience that being kept in the dark about what’s happening increases your anxiety during periods of change. In fact, one problem with the way many organisations manage change is the way leaders start to clam up and hide from view, leaving people to rely on guesswork and rumour to fill the gap left by the lack of accurate information.

So where do you draw the line? When do you stop being open and how do you deal with situations where people ask you about something you can’t discuss with them?

Let’s go back to why, as a general rule, you should be open in the first place:

  • because you should treat people with respect and not be underhand or manipulative
  • because it will increase their level of trust in you and their commitment to you as a leader
  • because a lack of information can lead to gossip and rumour, which can be inaccurate and damaging to morale and motivation
  • because better decisions can be made when people are in possession of all relevant facts and can see the big picture
  • because it can encourage a sense of responsibility and accountability in others when they’re made aware of what’s happening

So why might there be times when you go against this general rule and keep things to yourself?

  • when it would be unfair to tell one person and not tell everyone else
  • when you’ve been specifically asked to keep something confidential and not to do so would break the trust of the person who asked you
  • when things are unclear and letting out inaccurate or impartial information might be misleading
  • when the information might be commerically sensitive, e.g. affecting the share price of a company, and it’s not your place to reveal it
  • when letting out information might increase worries and anxieties amongst your team without actually helping them in any way

So it’s a balancing act. You have to decide whether it’s up to you to pass on information and whether the benefits ( from the first list above ) justify it.

Even then, you have to think about how you do it. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to tell one member of your team that there may be redundancies coming up without telling everyone else as well. You shouldn’t be seen to have favourites. 

And there may be times when you have to say something like, ” I can’t tell you exactly what’s being discussed at the moment because I’ve been asked not to, also things are at an early stage and anything I said now would probably be misleading. But, as soon as things become clear, I’ll make sure you and the rest of the team know what’s happening at the earliest possible time. “ 

This sort of answer is better than just saying, ” I can’t tell you. ” It shows concern for the person asking but doesn’t set them apart from the rest of the team. It’s honest and is as open as you can be in the circumstances.

For more great management and leadership tips, get your FREE copy of “The Book OF 100 Management Tips” from http://www.manageleadsucceed.com

My 5 Big Management Mistakes

 Not long after I’d taken over leading a small team in a previous role, I chaired one of our regular briefing meetings.

At one point, I remember sitting there while two members of the team were arguing with each other and another one was having a go at me about something I’d just said which she took exception to. I remember thinking, ” What the ( heck ) is going on here? “ 

I’d worked with all these people for years. I thought I knew them quite well and we all got on well together. I had always been senior to them, but now, for the first time, I was their direct line manager. And that changed everything.

Looking back, I can see that I could have handled the situation much better. Here are 5 mistakes I think I made – see if you can recognise them and, more importantly, see if you can avoid them!

 Mistake No. 1

Not recognising that becoming their line manager would make such a difference.

 Once you become someone’s manager, you cross a line. Things are never the same.

You may wake up the next day and look and feel like the same person you were the day before, but other people will see you differently. You are no longer just a colleague, now you are ” their manager “. This is particularly true if you are promoted from within a group of your peers.

You will face some resistance, resentment, even hostility from people you got on perfectly well with before. It’s not even personal ( well, sometimes it is ), they are reacting to the position, not the person. The fact that you now have some authority over them changes the whole dynamic. They know that, even if you don’t.

Mistake No. 2

Not understanding that new teams need some time to settle down.

You may have heard about teams going through different stages as they develop, including the ” storming ” stage. If you haven’t, don’t worry about it, just take my word – new teams, especially teams of bright, ambitious people, will not just settle down quietly.

There will be arguments, challenges, ” turf wars ” as people compete for position, try to claim the best work and look to see whether you are likely to advance, or hold back, their careers.

They will fight with each over roles and projects and they will fight with you over any perceived slight. The good news is that this will settle down after a while, and you can help by being very clear about what you expect from people, why you are making certain decisions and how you see the team moving forward.

Mistake No. 3

Being too open about my own thoughts and feelings.

Please see Mistake No. 1 – you cannot talk to people the same way once you are their manager. If you work in a team, you might have open conversations with people about how you feel, e.g. about some reorganisation that is going on or about some doubts you might have about what you’re doing. That changes when you’re the manager.

I’m all for managers being honest and open with people, admitting mistakes, etc. But be careful. There are some things you should not discuss, even with people who were your friends previously. For example, if you’re a new manager, people in your team don’t want to know that you feel anxious about how you’re going to tackle things or that you didn’t really want to take on the job in the first place.

In the early days, in particular, those sort of things should be kept to yourself or they will undermine your team’s confidence in you and encourage them to question and challenge your leadership.

And one more thing – assume that anything you say to one team member will be passed on to every other team member as soon as the conversation is over!

Mistake No. 4

Not building a strong enough network.

I was never one for networking much in any of the organisations I used to work for. I never had a large circle of contacts and I never went out of my way to build one. That was a mistake.

You need to build a strong network of people around you, especially people at a higher level than you whom you can call on for advice and whom you can rely on to give you support when you need it.

 Some people are much better at this than others and some find it quite natural. I’m a bit of an introvert, I don’t easily start conversations with people I don’t know, I don’t like large groups of people and I’m not a ” schmoozer ” ( if you don’t know what that means, you’re probably not one either ).

But that’s no excuse. I should have tried harder and I should have made a conscious effort to build my network. You can never do everything yourself and you need mentors, guides, coaches, sponsors, who will give you a hand and speak up for you when you need it.

Not doing that leaves you isolated and vulnerable and it makes life harder than it needs to be.

Mistake No. 5

Not realising that I was now part of ” the establishment “.

If you’re at a low level in an organisation, you might talk about the company as ” them “. You may even see things as ” them and us “, with ” management ” being some sort of enemy.

Whatever your own feelings, you have to accept that, once you take on a management position, things change ( did I mention that? ). Like it or not, now you represent the company or organisation you work for in the eyes of the people you manage. Now you have to stop talking about ” them ” and ” us “.

Once you are a manager, there are some things you don’t have the luxury of doing if you want to be respected and effective. Moaning about the organisation to your team is one of them. Complaining about how hard your job is – there’s another one ( I didn’t do that, by the way, but I know people who did ).

As a manager, there will be times when you have to implement things you don’t really believe in. I’m not saying you have to be dishonest, and there may be times when you feel so strongly that you can’t do what you’re asked without compromising your principles. If that’s the case, you need to make a decision.

But remember Mistake No. 3 – you can’t be too open. People are looking to you for a lead and people, above and below you, won’t respect you if you use your position to complain rather than getting on with your job and doing your best to carry out what you’re asked to do.

So there you are, just 5 of the mistakes I certainly made over the years when I was a manager. I hope they’ll serve as a warning to you.

Weak Management – The Buck Stops ( Anywhere But ) Here!

Excuse me while I have a ” grumpy old man ” moment.

Why do so many people these days refuse to take responsibility?

It seems to be an increasing part of our culture that, whenever something goes wrong, people look for someone else to blame ( and, preferably, sue ).

Failed your exams? It must be the school’s fault. Sue the Head.

Fallen over? It must be the pavement’s fault. Sue the Council.

Of course, this also applies in many workplaces where a blame culture exists. If anything goes wrong, the first response is not to work out how it happened and how to prevent it happening again, but to find out whose ” fault “it was and make sure that person takes the blame.

I’ve come across quite a few managers who do this automatically, partly from a sense of self – preservation and partly from an overblown sense of self – esteem.

I meet many people whose self – esteem is quite low. They lack confidence and they tend to assume responsibility, even for things which aren’t their fault. If something goes wrong, they tend to think, ” It’s probably something I did wrong. ” They are often too self – critical. They focus on bad things and ignore what they do well.

But there are also plenty of others around who aren’t self – critical enough. Their self – esteem is a bit too high, if anything.

They seem to assume they’re pretty well perfect and so nothing that goes wrong could possibly be down to something they did.

The problem then is, not only that this affects the people around them, who will probably be criticised for whatever happened ( even if it’s nothing to do with them ) but it also means that the person in question will not learn anything from the experience.

I think it’s true what they say, we learn most from our mistakes. I certainly have over the years. But the first step is to acknowledge that you’ve actually made one.

If something you’re involved in doesn’t go according to plan, use the situation as a chance to get some useful feedback about your own performance. What did you do well and what could you have done better, or at least differently?

If something went wrong, what caused that to happen ( and it may not have been anyone’s ” fault ” )? What was your own role in it and how can you adapt your approach in future to get a better outcome?

If you can do that, you will certainly learn from any mistakes you do make and you probably won’t repeat them ( too often ). You’ll develop and improve your performance and you’ll benefit from the experience.

Also, if you can do this honestly, and help others around you to do it as well, you’ll be much more respected as a manager and leader at work and, in the long run, you’ll get far better results – which is what you’re paid for after all.

Are Your Team Making Mistakes? Yes, They’re Just Not Telling You!

Here are two simple facts of life:

  1. People make mistakes
  2. Things go wrong

If you manage a team and you don’t think they’re making mistakes and you don’t think anything is going wrong, you’re deluding yourself. They’re just not telling you.

In any significant job, project or task, things are going to go wrong, problems are going to arise. They may be things which could have been anticipated or they may be completely out of the blue, unexpected snags which no-one could have foreseen.

Of course, you hope to minimise these things, but they will happen.

In any workplace, people will make mistakes. They’re human. We all do it. We try to avoid it, of course, and we hope our mistakes won’t be disastrous whoppers when they happen but, again, they’re going to happen. That’s life.

The question is – when these things happen, does the manager or leader of the team know about it? Or do people do their best to cover it up?

In many organisations, managers don’t want to hear bad news. They don’t want people to tell them about problems, either ones they anticipate or ones which have actually arisen.

So, when these managers outline a project and ask for opinions, they don’t really want anyone to say, ” I can see a few problems with that. ”

When they ask for a status report on a piece of work, they don’t want to hear a list of the things which are going wrong.

They communicate this in a variety of ways. Some do it by labelling people who predict problems as ” negative “. They may try to dress it up as ” positive thinking ” or they may say things like, ” don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions “.

While there may be some merit in that, in terms of encouraging people to work out how to tackle problems and come up with answers, it often just covers an attitude which really says, ” don’t tell me any bad news “.

Similarly, if some managers do find out about problems, their first response is to look for someone to blame. If there’s a problem, it must be someone’s fault ( and someone else’s, not theirs ). The same goes for mistakes – mistakes are to be punished to discourage others from making them.

What is the result of all this?

People hide problems and mistakes. They don’t pass on bad news, they bury it. They cover up mistakes and tell the manager only what he or she wants to hear. They gloss over issues until they’re too big to be hidden, by which time they’re harder to sort out.

Managers and business leaders don’t get accurate information on which to base decisions because people don’t tell them the truth.

What should managers do instead?

  • encourage, in fact demand, honesty – and show they mean it by praising people who tell them the truth, however ugly it may be
  • when they outline a project or a task, set a challenge to people to see how many potential problems they can foresee – that way, everything should be planned for and fewer surprises are likely
  • when they ask for status or progress reports, ask for a clear list of everything which has gone, or could go, wrong and what has been done to handle any such problems if and when they arise
  • thank people for warning of problems and for admitting mistakes
  • don’t develop a blame culture – when things go wrong, focus on how to put them right and how to prevent the same thing happening again rather than on whose fault it was
  • encourage people to report bad news immediately

If you lead a team, and you give people a clear signal that you don’t want to hear bad news, guess what? You won’t hear any. But that doesn’t mean bad things aren’t happening – it just means they aren’t telling you!

 

10 Mistakes Poor Leaders Make

I came across this list recently which was apparently put together by Graham Pitts, who was training operations manager at W. H. Smith. He and some colleagues identified 8 ” elements of disempowering leadership “. In other words, these are things which leaders do which make their teams weaker and less productive.

See what you think, do you agree with these? If so, can you see how you can avoid these and do the opposite – to empower and inspire the people who work for you?

Can you see what any of the leaders in your organisation are doing which might be on this list and, if so, how can you influence them to change?

1. Stay separate from the people you lead.

2. Avoid being vulnerable by pretending to be confident and knowing all the answers.

3. Don’t admit mistakes and so appear defensive.

4. Expect to be attacked.

5. Manipulate situations to get things done.

6. Rely heavily on criticism and rarely praise.

7. Assume there is a conflict between different groups and so create win/lose situations.

8. Pursue power rather than purpose.

A couple I would add from my own experience of working for some poor leaders ( I’ve worked for some very good ones as well, by the way) are:

9. When you are put under pressure, pass it on to your team rather than absorbing it yourself.

10. Encourage a blame culture, where people are afraid to take risks for fear of the consequences if they make a mistake.

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