by Courtney Butler, Head Editor, INALJ Idaho
Avoiding Managerial Mistakes with Cooperation and Consistency
I am in a supervisory position for the first time in my professional career, and it is interesting being on the other side. We have all had bosses and supervisors that were belittling, incompetent, unrealistic, or just plain unpleasant to work with. As I enter the managerial world, I am trying to keep the things that have bothered me most as an employee in mind and not make those same mistakes in my own position. Here are a few that have stuck out to me the most:
Embrace Input – Bosses are the ones that have to make the big decisions. That’s their job. It’s why they make the big bucks and, if all goes according to plan, they are the most qualified person on the team to make such decisions. However, anyone in a leadership position should keep in mind that the best decisions are informed ones. When making a policy decision, try asking your underlings what they think. Chances are you’ll find out that your employees hold a wealth of information about how your organization operates. They just have a different perspective – one you should take into account before making decisions that will affect them. By no means am I implying that you should ever strive to make everyone happy, but you are going to look like a much more competent leader if you take as many perspectives into account as possible when making decisions rather than handing down dictator-like orders with comments along the lines of “I don’t want any opinions on this. I decided this on my own and you are not allowed to raise any objections.”
Be a Team – Along the same lines, don’t be a dictator. Be a team. A team leader, yes, but still part of the team. Collaborate. Ask for input. Instead of dishing out all the least desirable tasks to the lowest employee on the totem pole, roll up your sleeves and get dirty down in the trenches with them every once in awhile. It will go a long way towards making everyone feel appreciated and like what they’re doing is worthwhile.
Keep Your Cool – You’re going to get annoyed by your employees from time to time. Personalities will clash and people will ask stupid questions. Sometimes employees might even become defensive when confronted and that’s not a pleasant experience for anyone involved. Here’s the thing though: you MUST keep your reaction professional and appropriate. Never complain about one employee to another that holds the same position. Never publicly call them out period. Don’t rant. Don’t be snide, sarcastic, malicious, vindictive, vicious or any other synonym for mean. Be the bigger person. You are above them in the workplace hierarchy. Act like it.
Try Not to Play Favorites – Just as you shouldn’t single people out when being cruel, you really shouldn’t do it when being nice either. Sure, good work always deserves recognition. And sure, you may become better friends with some subordinates than others. However, you should really strive to make it a little less obvious that you prefer the company of some employees over others. It can be as easy as saying hi to everyone when you walk into a room and acting genuinely interested in each person’s life. I’ll tell you from personal experience that being totally ignored all the time because your boss so obviously thinks your co-worker is a far more interesting individual breeds a pretty significant amount of resentment for said boss. And it just creates an uncomfortable workplace.
Don’t be a Hypocrite – I cannot stress this enough. If you make a rule – follow it. Also make sure you’re getting your own work done and consistently arriving on time before busting someone else’s chops for the same thing.
If you want some tips on how to remain positive in the workplace and “keep your cool,” check out my article Positively Pleasant: Being Positive and Optimistic in the Workplace.
Also check out some of these other great articles for even more tips on how to be an awesome supervisor!