As a manager, if you were unintentionally doing something that was negatively impacting your employees, wouldn’t you want to know? Read these eight scenarios to see if you are negatively impacting your workforce.
1. You just don’t have enough time in the day to deal with your employees’ problems.
Scenario: Your schedule is packed with back-to-back meetings. Your boss has you working multiple requirements with tight deadlines. You are maxed out so the last thing you need is one of your employees asking, “Can we talk about something?” You respond with, “Find a few minutes on my calendar next week for us to talk.”
Impact: Your employees will soon see themselves as the last thing on your list of priorities. They will likely stop bringing issues to your attention because they know you don’t have enough time for them.
2. You’ve caught yourself criticizing an employee around other employees.
Scenario: You are really upset with Adam for his unprepared presentation he just gave to the stakeholders. A few employees start talking about his poor performance and you can’t help but chime in with your frustrations too. You vent about Adam’s time management issues and his inability to create a few decent slides.
Impact: Talking poorly or criticizing employees around other employees creates a divide within the team. It puts team members against one another. Your team will not be successful when they are working against each other.
3. You try to avoid conflict in hopes that things will work themselves out.
Scenario: Liz and Jesse have had little spats in the office before, but you can tell things are heating up between them. They both seem frustrated with one another and currently, they aren’t on speaking terms. You like them both so you don’t want to take sides, plus you figure they will work out their problems eventually.
Impact: By not addressing the conflict between them, things will only get worse. Small spats that go unaddressed could lead to serious misconduct. A manager that is unable to resolve personnel issues will only create an environment of unhappy, unproductive and irritated employees.
4. You rely on your rock star employees to get all the work done.
Scenario: You know your go-getter employees already have a lot on their plates, but you can’t trust anyone else to tackle this new, urgent action. They are the only ones who will knock it out of the park, like always. It just seems like your other employees don’t have the same level of dedication or drive as they do, so you assign the task to your rock star employees.
Impact: Your tendency to overtask your high performers will burn them out. The high performers will also start resenting the fact that they are always the ones working late hours while the rest of the employees aren’t being held accountable. This way of managing also impacts the rest of the workforce as they feel underutilized and undervalued.
5. You’ve found yourself justifying your not-so-great behavior.
Scenario: You are stressed out trying to get this business proposal perfect. In a hurry, you fire off a harshly worded email to Nancy because she got some of the numbers wrong in the proposal. You heard later that Nancy was bothered by your email, but you justify your actions by saying things like, “If only you knew how much pressure I am under” or “I was in a bad mood when I sent that email.”
Impact: Making excuses for your bad behavior will only result in your employees losing respect for you. Negative outbursts, short-tempered responses and harsh emails set the tone for an unprofessional environment.
6. You’re not great at remembering everyone’s birthday, but when you remember one, you celebrate it!
Scenario: You aren’t the best at remembering everyone’s birthday, but you happened to learn that it’s Mike’s 40th next week. You have a little extra time on your hands, so why not turn his birthday into an officewide celebration? The office could use a few minutes away from their work, anyway.
Impact: This kind of haphazard approach makes it look like you are picking and choosing who you want to celebrate, even if that is not the intent. Choosing to celebrate only a handful of employees for things like birthdays, farewells and weddings is unfair to the rest. The employees who are not being celebrated will feel unappreciated.
7. You don’t understand why your employees can’t get a simple, routine report completed to your standards.
Scenario: Your employees brief you every week with a simple spreadsheet full of data. Each week they brief you, it seems like something is always wrong with the way they present the data. You tell them to change this field or that column. Next week it’s another field that needs to be changed. You wonder why they can’t get this simple, routine report completed to your standards.
Impact: You might think you are being clear about your expectations, but your employees do not see it that way. From their perspective, your standards keep changing from week to week. They know that whatever they put in front of you will not be good enough.
8. You know one employee did most of the work, but you like to reinforce teamwork so you reward the whole team.
Scenario: Your team just pulled off a great event. Everyone supported the event, but Natalie did most of the heavy lifting. Now that the event is over, you want to recognize the team for their contributions. You decide to award them with a team cash award.
Impact: Awarding the team when only one employee did most of the work can have damaging consequences. You will likely alienate your high performer and discourage her from going above and beyond. You are also reinforcing that mediocre work by the other team members is acceptable.
Ultimately, routinely performing any of these eight things, or a combination of them, will likely result in unfavorable consequences. These consequences can include employees losing incentive, managers unable to recruit and retain good employees, and a toxic work environment.
Tessie Davenport has served as a leader in the Department of Defense for the past ten years. Her breadth of experience includes creating successful teams, coaching, mentoring and leading development programs. She has a B.A.S. in Information and Computer Security, a M.S. in Intelligence Management and is pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Management. She hopes to inspire new leaders and experienced ones by offering practical ideas to help them build positive cultures and grow their people. Tessie is happily married with three dogs and a cat. She loves to travel, hike, kayak and explore.