How to Avoid Being a Management Turkey
I’ve had the privilege to manage people for many years, and I’ve watched others manage as well. Fortunately, I have not experienced all of these behaviors myself, but I have seen some—and I have heard the horror stories from friends and colleagues about the others.
In the spirit of the holiday, I offer ten behaviors managers should avoid so their employees, partners and peers don’t think they are acting like turkeys.
- Saying one thing, doing another. Inconsistency damages organizations because people never know what to expect, and that leads to inaction across the board.
- There is just no excuse. Anyone who is asked to lead or manage other people needs to, if nothing else, respect the people he or she works with. If you don’t respect people, you cannot expect them to respect you, which means that any achievements will be the outcome of fear or politics, not commitment and excellence.
- Not apologizing. We all make mistakes. We need to say we are sorry and mean it. A real apology doesn’t include a “but” or an “explanation”. A good manager owns his/her mistakes and his/her apologies. The best apology is action that isn’t repeated.
- Blaming others. This one goes hand-in-hand with number 3, not apologizing, but extends it from the individual to the organization. Passing off your mistakes to others hurts the organization by rapidly degrading trust.
- Holding a grudge. People who design things expect failure, and therefore, create designs that forgive users for mistakes. We don’t design most organizations, they just happen, and too often, when mistakes reflect on a leader, he or she holds a grudge rather than thinking through how they forgive and move forward. I like the idea of resiliency, as resiliency means that the recovery from an error makes things better, not worse. I see forgiveness as a tool of the resilient organization.
- Encouraging politics. Humans are political animals. We really don’t have a choice, but we can recognize politics, call it out and try to rise above it for the greater good. The manager who encourages and gets caught up in politics only helps those that help him or her, which isn’t how an organization learns and grows together.
- Taking credit for other people’s work. This represents a simple decision to do the wrong thing. There is no excuse for this. People work hard, and good managers recognize those who deserve recognition regardless if a person wants the accolades or wishes to avoid them out of humbleness or selflessness. Taking credit for other people’s work steals goodness from the work experience.
- Avoiding decisions. Some decisions are tough. Some are easy. Many prove unpopular. But one of the primary responsibilities of a manager or leader is to make decisions.
- Not trusting people. Managers who don’t trust others end up ineffective for many reasons. Most importantly, they either do everything themselves, or feel compelled to be so involved in everyone else’s work that they might as well do it themselves. This results in poor team productivity because everybody knows that no matter what they do, it just won’t be good enough unless the manager adds his or her touch or spin.
- Always being right. Always being right is just as bad as not trusting people, because it leads to teams who don’t trust themselves—and that means little learning and little progress. Stuff just doesn’t get done well or very fast.
I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. If you are a manager, may you return from the holiday refreshed and self-reflective—if you are managed by another person, may you discover the assertiveness to confront bad behavior, and therefore make the world a better place for all.