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There has been a lot of attention on the dismal levels of employee engagement lately. In fact, Gallup’s most recent poll shows employee engagement at 34.1% in the United States. Turnover has great costs, in financial and human terms-I wrote on the Solve HR, Inc. blog recently about how trust can inspire loyalty, increasing retention, if that’s the direction you want to go.
Instead, today I thought we should talk about what managers do to push employees away. We’ve all experienced these irritating, counterproductive habits of poor managers that drive great talent to seek another (even any other) path. Just one manager exhibiting these behaviors can cost your business thousands, so imagine if you have several of them how expensive that can be! Here are some of the miserable things these managers do:
- They make sure they have no idea what their employees are doing. Your managers aren’t there to organize and allocate work. They are just there to pass on pronouncements from above them and to make sure their teams don’t do things that generate complaints that they will have to actually respond to. And if problems arise? This manager passes them on to the team without comment and goes back into his office. The good news for him? His manager doesn’t know what he is doing either.
- They ask for status updates every ten minutes, and don’t let their team talk to anyone without asking them first. Your employees are pretty lazy—I mean, what would they get done without their manager following behind them, asking them to justify their every move? And they’re not too savvy either. That’s why this manager has to make sure she controls every word upper management hears from the team. It also doesn’t hurt that this way she can take credit for any decent idea they happen to come up with, although that’s not likely. What would the company do without her stellar management skills? They’d save the cost of her salary and reduce turnover, too.
- They don’t go to bat for their team-it’s too much trouble. Upper management doesn’t totally understand what employees are doing on the front line when they come up with a new strategic direction for the company. That’s something a manager could use courage to be frank about, and stand up for the team to ensure that bad decisions aren’t made in the absence of full information. But why should this manager do that when he thinks it’s easier to just keep quiet and look like a stellar team player to his leadership? Just say “yes” to everything and lean on the team to move mountains to get the job done, even if the results don’t justify the effort, and employees completely burn out in the process.
- They don’t explain anything – the team should just do as they’re told. What does company strategy have to do with this team? Apparently, nothing much.
- They make sure their team knows “face time” is more important than results. Being in the office early and staying there late is much more important than how much work product is generated and what kind of quality work gets done. Face time is what the leaders see, and when the leaders see the team, they comment on what a great manager he is, especially when the leaders aren’t paying attention to the results either! The extra bonus is that this leader can lord it over other managers who let their teams get off “easy.” It extends the reach of the dysfunction even further!
- They know how to reward their highest performers-give them all the work! Why should this manager waste time figuring out what team members need for coaching and development, when she has a goose that lays golden eggs, in the form of a stellar performer who always seems to hit it out of the park on every project? When others can’t finish on time or don’t perform up to par, just give it to the team’s best player! I’m sure he won’t mind doing everyone else’s work, even if he has to put in a few extra hours after everyone else goes home. Oh, wait a minute. It wasn’t too hard for some other employer to notice what a great performer he is-when a recruiter reached out on LinkedIn, he was ready to respond, given that he’s miserable and being taken advantage of!
Every organization has moments when it’s tough to avoid these awful manager behaviors. The key is to call them out, name them, and make it clear to every leader and employee that they won’t be tolerated. Creating a culture of respect and trust is a great way to say goodbye to these counterproductive and turnover-producing management habits-forever!
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