Navigating the sea of leadership comes with its fair share of triumphs and tribulations. But as invested leaders, let’s go ahead and ask the uncomfortable, but essential question: – Are we, inadvertently, embodying traits of bad management?
At first glance, the term ‘bad management’ might elicit images of harsh, overbearing leaders, but poor management can quietly weave its way into our practices, unbeknownst to even the most well-intentioned among us.
Recognizing Some Undercover Culprits
Consider a few hidden “management crimes” revealed in data collected by WeCare Connect, a leading provider of employee surveys in the U.S. and Canada. They asked staff leaving their respective organizations, “What could [your organization] have done differently to keep you as an employee?” Here are just a few of those responses:
Listening, But Not Hearing:
“In the future, I think management could be a little more empathetic to the struggles and lives of the people that they employ […] The lack of support and understanding causes lower productivity and sub-par service given by unsatisfied and overwhelmed employees. Pizza just doesn’t make up for that!”
“If I had felt heard when going to management with issues I would’ve stayed. It got to the point where I would regret even bringing up concerns because of the way I felt leaving meetings.”
How to Improve: How often do we listen to respond, rather than understand? Authentic listening involves embracing silence, absorbing the conveyed message, and acknowledging the speaker’s emotions and perspectives.
Neglecting Acknowledgment and Appreciation:
“After working at my organization for so long, leaving was a very hard decision to make and I could have easily been talked out of it. I just needed someone in management to let me know I was a valued employee.”
How to Improve: Failing to consistently recognize and appreciate our team’s efforts and achievements can invisibly erode morale, motivation, and productivity, propelling a drift toward a disengaged or completely absent workforce.
Failing to Advocate for and Anchor New Hires:
“Management must provide more training for new staff and refrain from throwing them out on the floor without enough training amongst hostile staff who don’t want to help.”
How to Improve: As managers, we must be the strongest allies for our new hires, ensuring they are comprehensively trained and not thrown out on the floor to sink or swim. They must be safeguarded from seasoned staff who “eat their young”, and immediately given a sense of belonging and team unity. After all, new hires are our greatest flight risk!
“I felt like management only focused on future employees and those they liked personally instead of all their current employees, their problems, and their concerns.”
How to Improve: When we inadvertently lean towards favoring certain team members, offering disproportionate praise or opportunities, we may unknowingly sow seeds of discord within our team, affecting the unity and vitality of our working environment.
Your Actionable Strategy: Dive Deep into Self-Examination
- Assess Your Objectivity: Engage in a deliberate self-audit to gauge the objectivity and equity of your decision-making, ensuring that favoritism and unconscious biases are kept at bay.
- Solicit Feedback: Actively seek and openly embrace feedback from your team, using their insights as a mirror to reflect upon and refine your management style and strategies.
- Journal Your Leadership Path: Maintain a leadership journal, documenting your decisions, rationale, and observations, providing a tangible tool for periodic reflection on your growth, challenges, and ongoing learning as a manager.
Your Path Forward
The life of a manager is filled with perpetual wins and losses. As you navigate through the ups and downs, remember that the cornerstone of successful management lies in cultivating an environment that breathes respect, inclusivity, and genuine listening.
Your task is to observe, absorb, and integrate these practices, ensuring that the echoes of bad management never reverberate through your halls. Let the voices of your team clarify your direction and correct you where needed. After all, the best leaders are those who acknowledge their “management crimes” and commit to correcting them for the sake of their teams.
Cara Silletto, MBA, CSP, is a workforce thought leader, keynote speaker, and author of the book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer.
WeCare Connect is a leading provider of employee surveys with clients in over 1,300 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. We provide real-time notifications and robust dashboards driving down turnover and increasing engagement.