If you work under such managers, you better quit the organization or them as it is not worth your effort!
I have worked with different organizations for the last 21 years. I have switched jobs for many reasons. In the beginning, it was more about financial growth and career advancement. However, most of the reasons lately revolved around managers and work culture. The culture of any organization is formed by Leaders and Managers anyways. Here is my perspective on being a good Manager and how they should be with their team. If they lack “basic hygiene” as a Manager, I suggest quitting working under them. It is not worth your time and effort.
Unsurprisingly, 70% of departing employees quit the company because of their managers. Direct Managers play a crucial role in the team member’s career-growth, and overall well-being and are responsible for their growth in that organization. A manager’s job is not just to delegate and get the work done. A manager needs to build a connection with his team-member and should create an environment of trust and care. He is there to assign work to his team but at the same time, he needs to work hard to enable them to be successful as well. He needs to understand their aspirations and mentor them accordingly so that they can reach there. Failures are bound to happen but as a manager, he needs to assure his team that he is the safety net so that the team members can feel free to take the risk, jump high and bounce back quickly even if they commit a mistake or fail. They should feel safe and confident in experimenting with new ways to accomplish the work. When they fail, it is important to provide feedback constructively but avoid criticism. Remember the one who falters or fails is the only courageous person who doesn’t shy away from taking tough decisions or dealing with unexpected situations. A manager should build the owner’s mindset, however, he shouldn’t forget to celebrate failure as you do for success.
As a manager, you cannot be biased. It’s human nature, with whom we work for a little longer, we start developing trust or affection towards them. It is quite easy for a manager to develop such trust in a selected few of his reportees. But be cautious as it will lead to favoritism. The manager should avoid praising his favorite incessantly in meetings and other forums. It can significantly impact others. There are various ways to accomplish the work. The manager might have seen it only one way as performed by his favorites on the team. But it doesn’t mean that’s the only winning recipe. The manager needs to be open-minded, approachable, and flexible to accept different thought processes.
The playing field must be leveled for all at work. Wanting to work with people a manager like is fine if it is fair to other employees. Having faith in your favorite is acceptable but not at the cost of ignoring the voice of a newcomer in a team. For a manager, it is critical to maintain the right balance between being prejudiced & narrow-minded to open to suggestions & new ideas from other members. He needs to create an ecosystem where all desire to work, thrive, contribute, be themselves, and feel equal & connected. If you happen to work for such a manager who doesn’t understand these basics, I think you should quit working for him.
A manager needs to remember; that he is a manager, not a parent. Parents have an annoying habit of comparing their kids and their achievements. They think by doing so, they will encourage the other kid, who is lagging towards success and glory. Parents might think, they are setting an example for the kid to emulate the success and follow the same path. Do you think, it would motivate the child? When I was a kid, I always hated comparison among family members or outside of the family. Many Managers are also like these parents who believe in comparison. They will always highlight the achievements of their favorite “kid”. They will support their ideas and promote their style, methods and ask everyone to learn from them. Do you think it would motivate others? Well, yes, it is important to share your winning story with others to encourage them. But you cannot go overboard and always praise your favorites in every meeting to make others feel low. This attitude will not help other team members to come up with new, creative ideas. This will inhibit their creativity, and ability to think differently and try new things. I remember, I worked with a boss, who preached to me incessantly that he wanted me to become like one of the other managers, who was working in Manchester, Europe. No doubt, he was quite successful there. But things were different in the US and team dynamics and situations were strange too. Initially, I took it lightly and I understood that my manager would like me to replicate the same success here in the US. But slowly it seemed, he was looking for the same leadership style, approach, handling, etc. in me. It started bothering me as I wasn’t sure, how could I be like him. I had a different style to manage my work and aspirations to grow. I could certainly take advice from him, but I could never become like him. Gradually, I developed the feeling, that he didn’t need me. If my manager wanted me to become like him then he should better get him only to do the job. Let me be myself and run things the way I would like to.I am open to suggestions and improvements but not okay to change “me” completely. Let me fly and spread my wings, I know I can move mountains. Don’t ask me to get different pair of wings as it won’t be possible.
Here’s another experience of working with a manager, who would constantly remind me what I was earning monthly vs. my contribution to that company was not enough. I never understood this Math and in fact, I didn’t recollect if HR ever explained the same during orientation that I would need to calculate my every inch of effort & contributions per dollar earning. It is more horrible than hourly wages. Isn’t it? If there is a direct correlation, many of us would have been rich by now. This typically happens when your manager doesn’t know what he or she expects from you. But at the same, he wants you to do everything and if you fail in some, he will blatantly realize that you are not capable. The same manager would ignore you easily when you do a great job. No lauding just beating! You got it, what am I talking about.
It is the manager’s responsibility to explain the Roles and responsibilities to his team members. A Manager needs to explain his expectations in black and white. This would help the employee to understand his work and goals better. The Manager must work with his direct reportees to draft the goals aligning with organizational objectives and employee’s career aspirations. However, the path to reach there, cannot be definite and the same for all. A manager is there to guide and support his team, but he must not push them to go down the same path he believes in. It may be a proven recipe for him but may not work for others. You can always recommend and suggest but let the individual decide what they prefer and be open to change if you have never heard or seen such choices.
A manager must not be dominating too, who just believes in imposing their ideas on others. Remember, every individual is unique and so is their working style and attitude. A manager needs to learn to appreciate and recognize an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. He needs to learn the art of showing gratitude and praising their team at the right time. After all, he is the link between Sr leadership and his team. He needs to showcase the achievements of the individual and his team at the right time in the right forum. If a team member is not able to contribute effectively then the manager should have a one-to-one conversation. But before he converses or provides feedback, he must have set the expectations with the employee before himself. A manager can’t expect a car driver to fly to the moon and then complain and criticize him for not being a successful astronaut.
Lastly, I have worked with some Managers, who believe in “Monologue” during team meetings. They tend to hijack the meeting and kept on talking for hours. They are a great fit for a professor kind of role but not for a manager job. As a manager, as a leader, you should be the last one to speak in the team meetings. You need to act as a facilitator if the team discussion is derailing but certainly not the controller or the speaker of the meeting. A manager needs to get away from the habit to outshine others in a meeting. As a manager, let your team speak and shine especially in front of Sr. leadership. If you are a good manager, your team will recognize you anyways. Don’t try to steal the thunder or hogg the limelight by being “Mr./Ms. know it all”. In the past, I worked for a manager, who has a habit of controlling the meetings. Before the meetings, he would do multiple one-to-one meetings with all his team members to get the required knowledge and details about the work they are doing. He invested a lot of his time and energy in such meetings because he was not a Technical competent manager. Initially, it seemed quite a nice gesture to me that he used to give so much attention and time to his team. However, later I realized the purpose behind this one to one connect. He took everyone’s time so that nobody else could speak in Teams meeting with other leaders. He had a severe trust issue, and he would think people are not capable enough to explain the problems or issues to the leadership in a meeting. I failed to understand the purpose of such Team meetings then. If he thinks, the team lacks communication skills to articulate the problem then please work on that. But a manager must trust his team and let them speak.
Some Managers would prefer to run every meeting. They would not organize them but would like to steer the meeting as per their agenda. They wanted to take control of every meeting as per their wish. Let your team run the meetings and contribute. They need to trust their team members and cultivate a culture of trust within the team. I think such managers, should be sent to classes to learn how & why to trust others and how to cultivate the same within an organization.
I tried to summarize some of my experiences and learnings. Now, I’m a manager, and a lot of pressure on me as well to not repeat what I had been through. :)