Let me start by saying, my manager and I have a very good relationship. And we still do. Even after I sent her this article.
I happened to see it on twitter as I follow the most excellent Alice Green of Ask A Manager fame. I’m not a supervisor, but I do believe employees should know the challenges of management. I also look to articles like this to help me be a better employee. Am I asking my manager the right questions? Am I holding up my end of this relationship?
Thankfully, my manager feels the same way I do.
The 7 biggest mistakes managers make (and how they affect this employee):
1. Not giving feedback
I crave feedback. I want to know when I’m doing well and when I’m not. I understand managers are typically chained to their desks responding to more emails than one person should ever receive and more phone calls and dealing with schedules and meetings. Oh, the meetings that can last hours! But here’s the deal: part of your job is knowing what I’m doing and how well I’m doing it. Please stop by unannounced at a storytime and observe. Please inquire at outreach locations how I’m doing. Please periodically ask about my goals and how I’m managing them. I want to be the best employee I can. Your feedback is really important.
2. Not setting clear expectations
I am a huge fan of goals. HUGE. And thankfully, my organization is as well. We all have to sit down with our manager and go over 3-5 goals we hope to accomplish in the next fiscal year with clear outcomes. The trick in my organization is once the goals are written to keep checking in with progress. I was so proud of myself for including social media in my goals this year only to look back at LAST year and see essentially the same goal. Head desk. If you do not work for an organization that sets goals, take it upon yourself to approach your manager about what you hope to accomplish. Write them down. Make them measurable. Refer to them on a regular basis.
3. Avoiding tough conversations
Sorry, managers, but this is why you get paid the big bucks. You are not doing your organization any favors by avoiding these difficult situations. If anything, the longer you ignore the problem the bigger it will get. If employees are not held accountable, they will continue to believe their behavior is acceptable. You’ll also lose respect of other employees who are observing you ignoring the situation.
4. Evaluating the wrong things
See, if you have goals and outcomes? You’ll evaluate the right things. And if you insist your manager works with you on goals and outcomes? You’ll be evaluated for the right things.
5. Acting like something is a suggestion when it’s a directive
If you want your employee to do something, tell them. Be clear and direct. You’re the manager. But please don’t micromanage. Management is about leadership and empowerment. Micromanagement is about distrust and control. If you want something done a certain way by all means be direct, but please remember you hired me for a reason and it’s not to watch you do my job.
6. Be unwilling to let low-performing employees go
Again, I say, this is why you get paid the big bucks. Low-performing employees not only harm productivity. They damage morale. The longer you hold onto a low-performing employee, the harder it is to let them go. Everyone deserves a chance to improve-especially if you’ve done your job as a manager and have set out clear, measurable goals paired with appropriate guidance and professional development opportunities-but there comes a time to acknowledge the employee is not going to improve.
7. Getting defensive
You’re in charge. You get to make the final decisions. But leaders don’t get defensive when their ideas are questioned. Good employees ask questions and do so because they want the organization to be the best it can be. If you react defensively, I am going to be less likely to express my opinion. Leadership isn’t knowing everything. Leadership is listening.
Managers: go forth and fail forward right along with us!