You’ve probably had a bad manager or remember the challenges & pitfalls when you were a new manager. So you know that there are big mistakes that can be made. Let’s look at eight common issues. The first involve team-building or “teaming.”
- Employees need to know what the stakes are, what the game is and how it’s played. This is often difficult for a new mid-level manager who has never quite understood herself. As a new manager or with a new manager reporting to you, remember that your company can support managers by having a clear vision and communicating it well and often. The CEO should be able to tell a great story about how the company came to be, what it stands for, where it wants to go, and what it honestly values. HR should help new employees understand why this company exists and what it strives for. Managers should reinforce this message, and not just during onboarding.
- Does everyone in your organization understand the company business goals, it’s unique selling position, brand promise(s), operating environment, and marketplace realities?
- Employees need to understand how they can make the biggest contribution to the vision. All employees do not need to agree with the vision, but they should be able to align their work with the institution’s goals. Performance evaluations should be conducted with an eye towards contributing to those goals. As a manager, you may have to bring the vision down from thirty-thousand feet to a more targeted level. Let your staff know how their work fits into the larger picture for your organization and for your consumer, client, or other audience.
- Employees need a reason to care about contributing. A paycheck is not a reason to care. People do have a need to belong and to feel like they matter. Does your employee’s contribution matter? Do you care about his contribution? Do you understand how he wants to be rewarded or what will make him feel productive? Are you as a manager engaged in your work? How good are your communication skills in terms of inspiring and thanking?
- Managers need to create a positive environment that fosters the traits you want employees to display. You may need to experiment a bit here. Some teams will have different needs and values. For example a team that is largely DiSC C-styles will feel rewarded by challenges, but not necessarily personal recognition. An S-style team may value a structure that supports work-life balance.
- Employees don’t want to feel set up for failure. Do you know what feels like failure to your employees? Do they have the resources they need to fully contribute? Are you second-guessing them or getting in their way? Do the rules of the game change so often that an employee might be playing by old rules? How do you as a manager deal with failure? Do employees know what your reaction to their failure will be? Will you punish or help them learn?
- Employees see bad behavior and poor performance going unnoticed or unchallenged.
Nothing demotivates like watching a team member goof off while others strive for excellence. Do employees say or think “What are they going to do? Fire me?” because no one has witnessed a reprimand, let alone a dismissal? Is there a clear understanding of what constitutes appropriate behavior and excellent performance? Are you as a manager modeling both?
- Employees feel ignored and/or unappreciated. Do you understand what type of attention is beneficial to offer each of your employees or teams? Do you understand what each employee needs to feel appreciated or is the manager basing her behaviors on her own preferences?
- Managers and employees both need continuing education. Without continued opportunities for learning, a skills gap can quickly develop. It’s not always possible to hire for new skills and it can be a waste not to invest in the human resources already there. It’s critical to embrace new technologies, including just-in-time learning. Mentoring and coaching are valuable throughout anyone’s career and can also help with reducing turnover.
If you’re a manager, how well do you do? Have you gone through a 360 review? If you train managers, how are you measuring your success? If you’re a leader, how are you providing your managers with a clear understanding of your vision so they can align their resources with it and execute the appropriate tactics?