4 Bad Habits Bosses Need to Break©
by: Lynda McNutt Foster
No one means to be ineffective, just like we don’t mean to not return phone calls, or text messages, or emails, or we don’t mean to be so rushed all the time. I’m with you on this. Being the one who sets the example for the way to lead is a tough job and, many times, a lonely one.
Things we do become habits. Quickly, in fact. Whether we mean for them to, or not. Do something enough times and you’ll even find a way to justify the habit even if you know it’s not a good one. As a leader/manager becoming aware of habits that are jeopardizing trust with others can help move you towards getting to the goals you have set for yourself.
If you manage other people, you’ll want to take note of the following list of bad management habits and the new ones to replace them with.
If you manage others, you’ll want to take note of the following list of bad management habits and the new ones to replace them with.
Habit #1: Continually breaking your word.
Being more than a few minutes late to a meeting that you set is deemed by some team members as “rude” and “disrespectful”. If you are consistently late to group meetings it sends a signal that what is occurring in that meeting is not of a high degree of importance to you – whether you mean it to or now. Promising that you will have an answer to someone that reports to you by a certain date and not following up puts your employee in a situation where they are forced to either confront you or sit in silence not knowing what their next right move should be.
NEW Habit #1: Don’t promise it if you aren’t 100% sure you can deliver on it.
If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you say you will be somewhere or call at a certain time, do your very best to be there or call at that time. If you know you are going to be late, call ahead and renegotiate the time you had set. If you “think” you can do something, get in the habit of saying, “I want to be there at that time and I have an appointment right before it that may require me to adjust the time we’ve set. Will it work for you if we need to adjust the time that day?” Perhaps you are used to promising you will make deadlines and you are consistently missing them. Try this, “I believe I can have that to you by Friday and I have quite a few other promises I have made. What would be your last possible date to receive this from me?”
Habit #2: Withholding specific, positive, feedback
Don’t ask me why some bosses do this. They act as if they have a certain number of positive comments to allocate per team member, per year. Or, and perhaps even worse, they constantly think that they are giving positive feedback by using general statements like, “We sure do appreciate you.” Or “Thank you for all that you do.” Or blanket statements to whole groups that say things like, “I want you to know how much all of you mean to this organization.” Giving general praise is good, it just doesn’t replace direct contact with specific, positive feedback, to individual team members.
NEW Habit #2: Look for things that are going right.
Make it a habit of communicating what you are seeing going right to individual team members. Give specific feedback like, “Suzanne, I really appreciate the way you handled the last situation with that customer. You were able to stay calm when the customer was upset and still give them good information that quickly resolved the situation. Good job.”
Habit #3: Talk more than you listen.
How curious are you about how your team members are doing? What their biggest challenges are at work? What would make their jobs just a little easier? When is the last time that you gathered your team together or scheduled a one-on-one just to discuss their biggest concerns at work or are you afraid of what they would say and whether you would know how to respond? With the” very” engaged scores at work from Gallup coming in at like 30% – yep, only 30% of employees say they are very engaged at work – we all have to make time to listen more and talk less.
NEW Habit #3: Get out your calendar RIGHT NOW and schedule time to listen to your highest potential employees this week.
Make it a habit to create time, each month, to check in with the employees that matter most to you and the organization. Do a stay interview with them or simply create the time to find out what’s going on with them. Try some active listening techniques during that conversation.
Habit #4: Micromanage
First, let’s define micromanaging. Micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees. Why you micromanage can be dependent on your behavioral style. If you are a high Calculator (from DISC) which means that you are very detailed oriented and set high standards for yourself you may have a habit of doing work yourself instead of delegating. You may also micromanage a process in a way that could be construed as demeaning and untrusting of others. If you are a high Influencer type in the DISC profile, you may swoop and poop assignments and thereby not really even manage the process at all. Influencers tend to do this as freedom is super important to them and so they shutter at the thought of micromanaging. In fact, if an Influencer type is even reading this send me an email right now, Lynda@cortexleadership.com, because my theory is that you hate micromanaging others so much that you skipped this part of the article altogether.
Drivers in the DISC profile may be intensely focused on the way something gets done and when it gets done and what order it gets done in if they feel like it won’t get done right and therefore the project or process will fail. (That had to be a run-on sentence!) They are mostly concerned with the fact that they or the team will lose in some way. Supporter types are usually so busy helping the team and each team member equally that they would be much more likely to do it themselves then micromanage someone else. CLICK HERE to find out if you are a Micromanager.
NEW Habit #4: Ask more questions when delegating.
Put the effort in, up front – at the beginning of the delegating process, to train and set up effective processes that manage how things are done rather than relying on you being the go-to person each time the team member gets stuck. Making the time to create effective processes is tough AND it’s worth every minute of it. You want to celebrate people’s successes (see new habit #2). If you are micromanaging the whole time it will be hard to catch anyone doing anything right without you.
The point of all this habit change talk is to point you in the direction of continual improvement, not perfection. There is not one leader I know that is on time to every single meeting, uses active listening skills 100% of the time, always knows the right questions to ask at the right times, or hasn’t micromanaged a process when the stakes were high. Nope. You will not be a perfect manager because they do not exist. So polish up your apology skills when you know you haven’t gotten it right.
Head in the direction of the type of manager your employees would find inspiring and want to work their fannies off for and, over time, you will reap the rewards of helping others become the best they can possible be which I gotta tell you, feels really good!