Whether you manage employees from one to one hundred, you’ve probably said and done things that you wish you hadn’t. Take heart; there is no perfect leader, just as there’s no perfect employee; but there are perfect ways of irritating your staff members, forcing the best ones to leave and paralyzing productivity. And you’re probably already doing them.
So before you continue to implement useless policies, give credit where it isn’t due, or hire the wrong employees to fulfill positions you don’t understand, take a moment to analyze the type of leader you are and make sure you’re not developing these counterproductive leadership habits.
Making Everyone a Manager
While there are different schools of thought on this and those who rally for leadership ubiquity will probably disagree; in my experience, making everyone a manager is akin to making sure that nothing gets managed. While it’s good business sense to ensure that new team members can be groomed to be future leaders, managers are there for a reason; to manage. To oversee. And to ensure that tasks and functions are being carried out.
So if you split your marketing department into SEO Manger, Outreach Manager, Inbound Manager, Social Media Manager, Ad Words Manager, CRM Manager, and so on, when you have a project where these functions overlap, no one knows where to start or who’s in charge. What happens in situations like that? Nothing. Productivity grinds to a halt and the project never gets off the ground.
If it’s hard for you to delegate, then it’s vital that you work on this and trust that there are other people better qualified or more suitable for managing certain tasks than you. Whether you’re the owner of a small online business or a large restaurant chain, you really shouldn’t be involved in every blog post, tweet, or email your employees send out. If you can’t trust that your company can run like a well-oiled machine when you’re not around, then you’ve hired the wrong people.
And if you really can’t loosen the reigns, then I beg of you, please at least have the decency to be consistent in your involvement in a project from start to finish. The moment to make changes to your new website design is not the week before launch. The time to implement a change of direction in your content marketing strategy isn’t after you’ve just finished rebranding. So get involved or get out. Don’t be a seagull manager who swoops in, sh**s all over everything and then flies out again, leaving everyone in your wake decidedly ruffled and disgruntled.
Getting Stuck in Your Ways
Best practices, company policy, or however you want to call it translates into “the way we do things around here” and that smacks of a sparsely populated village where the inhabitants don’t take kindly to strangers. Being set in your ways, doing things according to company policy or best practices stifles innovation. It makes your company weak against the competition. It makes your best employees leave.
It generates an environment of yes-men (and women) where people stop questioning, stop offering insights and giving suggestions, and eventually become frustrated because they’re forced to fit into a mold. As the market becomes increasingly global and the competition fiercer, smarter, and leaner; if you’re stuck following your “best practices” because it’s always been that way, then you can forget about keeping up the pace.
Overworking Your Employees
There isn’t a single boss who isn’t guilty of this, so if you think this doesn’t apply to you then I’ll be the first to challenge it. Don’t overwork your hardworking employees. And don’t crush your brightest team members under a weight of tasks that don’t belong to them, just because you know they can do them faster. While it’s great to keep your brightest minds challenged; that doesn’t mean pushing them towards burnout or making them feel like they’re being punished with extra homework.
Hard work and dedication are admirable qualities and should be encouraged, but forcing your employees to work overtime all the time is just bad business. In fact, it’s been proven that working more than 50 hours a week makes people less productive. It’s also a great way of losing your all-star employees to a company that respects their talent and nourishes it, rather than takes it for granted.
Hiring or Promoting the Wrong People
While I was always taught to respect my elders, a business should work on the principals of meritocracy, not seniority; so don’t promote people who aren’t up to the job simply because they’ve been with your company the longest. Don’t hire people who are the cheapest or keep them around because they stroke your ego with the words you want to hear. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t hire people for positions you don’t understand or that they can’t explain to you. PowerPoint presentations are very nice. But if you don’t see any of the rhetoric in action, or the flowcharts delivering results, then it’s time to get back to basics.
What kind of leader are you? And more importantly, what kind of people do you want around you?