Infinity Consulting and Training Solutions

6 Mistakes Managers Make that Kill Employee Morale

By its very nature, true leadership carries with it the burden of being an example. ~Gordon Hinkley

6 Mistakes Managers Make that Kill Employee MoraleOne of the lasting effects of the recession that we see is a widespread reluctance by managers to relinquish control and empower people. After all, during tough economic times, employees had few options to change jobs and most managers took advantage of having a captive workforce.

After reviewing information we consistently capture during our leadership training, we noticed some common concerns and complaints about managers. We summarized the feedback and here are 6 mistakes managers are making that are killing employee morale and some suggestions for preventing the mistakes from happening.

1. Assuming Positional Power Works Best

Managers have two types of power – positional and personal. It is all too common for most managers to rely on their positional power to get things done because it appears to be an easier and more efficient approach. Unfortunately, when managers overly rely on positional power, they don’t know the price they are paying because employees deliver results out of compliance and such results are not sustainable over the long term. Overuse of positional power is one of the largest contributors to the destruction of employee engagement.

Solution: Managers should spend 70% of their time building personal power with their employees. The simplest ways to do this include getting to know your people outside of work, demonstrating competence as a manager, and helping to remove complexity from your employees’ jobs and tasks.

2. Thinking Employees Can’t Be Trusted

Trust between management and the rank and file continues to be at historic lows in many industries, and as a result, managers are reluctant to trade control for contribution from their employees. We see many highly effective managers in our client base, and the one thing they do differently is to make building trust-based relationships just as high a priority as achieving business results.

Solution: Stephen M.R. Covey’s book The Speed of Trust identifies 13 trust building behaviors. We highly recommend managers read and apply the concepts from this highly effective approach. We summarized the book in a previous blog article.

3. Treating Everyone the Same

In their best- selling book First Break All the Rules, Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham presented extensive research proving employees remain highly engaged when working in their areas of strength. More than a decade after its initial publishing, we observe less than 10% of managers actively aligning employees to their strengths. Instead most managers are using a one-size fits all approach to managing others. Quite simply it is easier and less time consuming. It also yields the least productive results over time.

Solution: If you want to experience dramatic increases in performance of your team, have your employees take and apply the results from the Strengthsfinder 2.0 assessment. It takes a proper plan and follow-through, and when done properly, the increases in performance can be amazing to say the least.

4. Never Admitting a Mistake

Managers mistakenly assume if they admit a mistake, it is a show of weakness. Employees would be the first to tell you that they generally already know about your mistakes so having a reluctance to admit them only tarnishes any chances at building credibility and trust – two management traits that are critical to success.

Solution: Face the fears, overcome the ego, and state your mistake. It really is that simple.

5. Avoid Praising Employees for Doing their Job

Early in my management career, I was told a manager should never praise a person for doing things well that is part of their normal course of business. I came to realize that is a mistaken approach. The norm is to only give feedback when performance hasn’t met expectations. The solution is also quite simple.

Solution: Work on building a new habit – a praise habit. For the first week, give praise to each employee once during the week. During the second week, make it a goal to praise each employee two times. Continue repeating this practice until it becomes a natural extension of who you are.

6. Assuming It’s OK to Be Too Busy to Attend Training

Answer this question: can you grow without change? The answer is no. Growth always requires change. Can you change and not grow? Absolutely. As a result of the incredible speed of change, managers who are not continuing to grow and develop their skills are slowly becoming irrelevant. In fact, according to Leadership researchers Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, less than 10% of leaders take the initiative to create personal development plans to become better leaders.

Solution: Develop a growth plan which includes dates of specific training and other developmental activities that will further your development as a manager and a leader. Enlist an accountability partner to help increase the probability that you will follow through on continually developing yourself.

These are 6 fairly common mistakes that also happen to have fairly easy resolutions. The benefits of avoiding these mistakes are massive increases in speed and efficiency while simultaneously increasing trust and employee engagement. Those benefits alone make it worth the effort.

The Floor is Yours

What additional tips and strategies for avoiding making these 6 mistakes can you share that you have used? Please share them in the comments below.

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