During coffee-breaks or business meetings it's not unusual for co-workers to pass along anecdotal stories about terrible bosses with equally miserable management tactics. These types of stories usually serve as a warning for how not to act as a manager, but rather take a different approach and consider three valuable lessons that can be used to shape better supervisory practices.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Nothing sets the stage for an ugly workplace altercation like a misunderstanding, unclear instructions, or murky expectations. A good manager keeps requests clear and shares information upfront. In a world where information is power, too many managers keep information flow to a minimum to maintain a sense of control.
Unfortunately, under-informed employees are often left feeling out of control and uncertain about how to best do their job when managers are not open and communicative. It might be tempting for managers to keep the cards close and share information or communicate on a need-to-know basis, but the reality is that doing the opposite-communicating freely and often-will foster satisfied and competent employees who feel like a contributing member of a team rather than an unwilling player in the world's most confusing game of twenty-questions.
Practice the Golden Rule
Management is no easy task, but one way to avoid a common complaint is to put aside the stress of the job and keep the golden rule in mind by always treating employees the way that you would like to be treated yourself. Untrained managers project fears and uncertainty onto unsuspecting employees through hyper-criticism and negative feedback, so it's simply a matter of flipping the script to avoid this error by striving to treat each and every employee with integrity and respect.
Think back on your own experiences as an employee and imagine a bad management experience may have been diverted or avoided altogether had your manager taken a moment to consider your perspective using the golden rule approach. Using the golden rule often takes the emotional charge out of a situation; by taking time to look at a scenario through someone else's perspective, the problem feels less of a personal affront and is easier to assess.
Don't Get in the Way
A good manager fosters relationships with employees and should be able to rest in the certainty that those same employees are competent and capable of performing the job duties assigned them. Managers who do not connect with, mentor, or talk to employees often fall prey to micromanagement strategies that leave both employees and managers frustrated and feeling ill-used.
This problem occurs because managers do not know or trust their employees, and therefore they try to control outcomes through tedious oversight of trivial job duties. This error is fixed by keeping open lines of communication with employees, being approachable as a boss and mentor to employees when they need it, and trusting employees to do their job well or reach out when help is needed. Getting in the weeds as a manager often gets in the way of true creativity, which can lead to further workplace frustrations. The lesson here is to get to know and trust your employees rather than just manage their behaviors.
We've all had uncomfortable or outright terrible supervisory experiences in the workplace, but the good news is that even bad leadership practices can provide valuable lessons about how a manager should act. By taking negative managerial experiences and exploring the lessons taught through them, its possible to become a better-informed manager equipped to mentor and lead talented employees.
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