Over the past year with working with different organizations and industries, I used those contacts to run a survey of the employee base. It was one to help me with understanding what employees did not like that their managers were doing. This is not a scientific survey, just me asking people questions about their experiences with the direct manager. It is always easier to look at the bad in a situation to help learn. Here are top five items (with some quick fixes) from my experiences.
- Surprises. This should come as no surprise, but this was highlighted in almost 95% of the folks surveyed. Highlighted in the comments were simply, “I like to know what is happening and not guess what daily change or mood swing is coming.” Very telling! What can you do: Make sure that you have a daily dialogue with your team. Insure that you are being transparent with them. Don’t make surprises the norm.
- Unfair. 94% responded about managers playing favorites or treating someone different that the rest. With many companies still using a performance appraisal system, this time of year is very telling with unfairness. What can you do: The simplest of items is probably the most difficult for managers, be a role model for your team. Be consistent in how you follow the rules and delivering consequences for not following the rules.
- Missing Leader. There are two particular items that stood out with this one. The first one was, folks felt like the manager was not around or sat in their office. Coming out when they felt like they had too. The other one was the leader that was out of touch with their team. Either way, the manager is not there. What you can do: My favorite term here is management by walking around. As the manager, you get to see, hear and discuss with the team what is happening. Being a part of the team will make you more successful in the long run.
- Empty talk or action. Personally, I would have thought this one would have been higher (I guess managers are getting much better at this one). The comments here were all around leaders that don’t do what they say they are going to do. Nothing frustrates them more than having critical matters sit undecided because of the manager hasn’t gotten to it yet. What can you do: Be accountable! If you say you are going to do something, then you better do it. Step up and lead your team. I know that sounds harsh, but that is the easiest thing you can do.
- Unclear goals. There are two ways to look at unclear goals – there are none or they are so grand. Either way, it is hard for the team to understand what is expected of them. What you can do: I have written a lot about goal setting. The simplest way to make sure that the goals are clear and the team knows what is expected is to involve them. This will help them understand the goal and how best to contribute in achieving them.
Learning from mistakes is easier than learning from your success. Using a critical filter can always help. Managing your team is difficult. The best piece of advice I received was to spend time with your team. Get to know them. Work along side of them. Listen and watch – you will learn lots.