This is a topic that I have skirted around for some time… but it’s a recurring theme that I keep witnessing in businesses, so I want to talk about it…
It doesn’t matter what sector you operate in, or business size, you all seem to experience the same difficulties. Some people on the management team are afraid to manage…
I am a firm believer in managers having the right to manage… So where does this apparent fear or avoidance come from?
I understand that managing people can seem somewhat overwhelming at times… It’s both the most enjoyable and most difficult part of being a supervisor/manager. Building effective relationships with staff can be, well, challenging to say the least, however, building trust and mutual respect can sometimes be the difference in promoting success for the future of your department or business.
There are many different types of leaders and managers. Being a manager is basically the nuts and bolts of the machine, but leading a group of people means you are actually getting in that machine and starting up the engine.
My experience dictates that some people just don’t like confrontation or playing ‘bad cop’; sitting on the fence or flat out avoidance seems to be the preferred option to handling issues head on… wrong wrong wrong… (with a virtual tut). You actually do yourself and your employee a disservice in behaving like this. Employees learn to get by with sub-par work, disregard for company rules and policies, and minimal professional growth. All because their manager is avoiding having serious conversations with them about what they need to do to improve.
From the employee perspective – criticism is never easy to hear, but when it comes down to it, employees would rather be told constructively —early on—that their work is lacking, rather than be surprised by more harsh action down the road. Simply by realising that, confrontation becomes a little less intimidating; in the grand scheme of things, you’re helping your team succeed and avoiding bigger problems later on.
Developing a culture of routine performance related feedback on positives and improvements will take the edge off. Preparation is key to this process, let information speak for itself. Facts, figures and real examples carry far more weight in discussions than talking about a topic in ‘general terms’ e.g. demonstrate how a decline of the employee’s productivity in percentage terms compares to his or her teammates; current relevant examples will make your discussion a little easier and meaningful – realising that you’re not being mean, nitpicking or micro-managing. What’s the other option – just leave it alone and hope it goes away?
It’s useful to approach with an open mind to understand what is hindering the employee to achieve the standard required. It might be you? Remember nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood. No one sets out to do a bad job so by understanding any underlying factors you are a step closer to helping get the person back on the right track.
Remind yourself that holding an employee accountable for their work isn’t mean or unfair; it’s your job. And truthfully, your employees expect—and benefit from—that kind of tough love.
Its about changing your approach and getting in the right mindset—to realise that you’re not being harsh or unfair to your employees by confronting them; you are doing them a disservice by refusing to.
About the author: Shakira Joyner is an independent HR Consultant with hchr Ltd in Swansea. hchr offer a wide variety of free e-books for HR Managers on a variety of topics, to access them, click here.