Take a moment to see if you, or your colleagues, are guilty of any of these somewhat subtler #LeadershipFails that you may not even realize you do.
1) You ask for input – but then give it yourself
You gather your team to brainstorm new project options and jot them on the whiteboard. Then you shoot them down – one’s too expensive, the other won’t go over with sales, the next one you tried before. But you’ve got your own great idea! If you frequently ask your employees for contributions only to toss them aside in favor of your own, your “let’s put our heads together” meetings are steadily losing steam.
2) You’ve deserted your team
You’re helping out on a project outside your regular area. But now your team has to put out an All Points Bulletin to find you. Of course, it’s a great idea to stretch and take on new tasks; expanding your reach will grow your career. But leaving good employees rudderless for too long sinks morale – and could sink your team’s goals as well.
3) You can’t keep a meeting on course
You’re upbeat and enthusiastic, and that’s great. But once you get going, you never stop. An hour and a half later, your 30-minute meeting is stuck on your stale story about an old boss. With meetings, less is more. Trim the sails, point the bow and go. Once you’ve arrived, send them back to work to get their jobs done.
4) You stifle dissent
Some managers enforce a “go along to get along” policy that seems benign enough, but over time really becomes the law of land: “Don’t make waves!” The minute an employee ventures a complaint, you smile and squash it like a gnat. Your policy that “employees should be seen and not heard” by higher-ups, might keep your department out of trouble, but it can leave employees stewing.
5) You let the kids run the classroom
A hands-off style pays off in some situations, but you can take it too far. Employees start coming to you with constant questions and routinely miss deadlines. Good managers don’t need to hand-hold, but not providing consistent direction keeps employees aimless and unsure of what you expect from them.
6) You don’t show you care about their careers
At least, you don’t act like you care. Work is always about what your employees need to get done, not about what they’d like to do. You might not be purposefully holding them back, but employees always know if their managers want to help them grow. Or not. Your disinterest will have them regularly eyeing the clock – and maybe even eyeing the door.
7) You’re too by-the-book
Your department follows all the tried-and-true methods and meets its projected outcomes. Soon enough, your employees may wonder if that’s all there is. A manager who doesn’t encourage outside-the-box thinking isn’t going to have employees who do either. They’ll start to keep their fresh ideas to themselves, and might even take them elsewhere.
8) You always expect them to do more with less
Managers with great teams sometimes get spoiled. When employees regularly turn out good work, it’s natural to expect them to be even better next time. But don’t expect employees to climb higher summits if they don’t get enough rope. Asking employees to shoot for bigger goals without having needed resources will drain their energy and their desire to succeed (for you, anyway).
9) You promise to fix things, but don’t push for it
You talk a good game (“I’ll see to it that we get the changes you want!”), but when it comes to affecting change your team knows it probably isn’t coming. Empty assurances to add staff or lobby for pay increases don’t help your credibility if the changes aren’t made. Be honest about what you can and can’t promise. Otherwise, your employees will think you’re trying to mollify them.