Five Management Mistakes to Avoid

By Shari Storm

Telling Everyone What You Only Need to Tell One
We’ve all been there. You’ve got that employee whose isn’t doing what they are supposed to do. Maybe it’s the dress code- they wear things that are unprofessional or distracting. Telling someone to dress differently is a tough conversation. So instead, you send a memo to your whole staff and remind them of the dress code guidelines.

This never works. The offending employee never thinks the memo is about them and the rest of your staff looks at you and thinks, “Why don’t you talk to so-and-so about this?” You not only fail to get the one employee to act the way you want, but you remind the whole staff that you aren’t doing your job as a manager.

If you have an employee who has an issue, talk with that employee. Don’t send a blanket message to everyone and hope you get your point across.

Sending Emails When Angry
When an email comes across your desk that annoys you, it’s tempting to fire back a heated response. Never do this. If you are feeling irked, it’s a sure sign that you need to sleep on it and then talk to the sender voice-to-voice.  You can’t hear tone in emails, and email has a way of escalating conflict. Don’t let it.

Also, if you get an annoying email, no matter how tempting, never forward it to another co-worker. The odds are high you’ll hit ‘respond’ instead of ‘forward’ and you’ll accidentally send your snarky comments to the wrong person. This is especially true if you use words like “dumb-ass”. Murphy’s Law dictates that if you ever use a word like “dumb-ass”, you will inevitably send the email to the wrong person, thereby making yourself look like the “dumb-ass”.

Assuming People Will be Unreasonable
I can’t tell you how many times in my career when I’ve been in a problem-solving brainstorm session and the group gets waylaid by this statement “Oh, _____ will never go for that.” You can insert marketing, HR, accounting, internal audit, IT or management into that blank space.

Don’t ever let your team talk this way.  First off, it’s a waste of time. You don’t know what other departments will or will not do, so complaining doesn’t move anything forward. Secondly, it’s not your job as a boss to sit around and grumble about how other areas don’t cooperate. It’s your job to use your influence to help people work together to solve problems. You are more likely to get people to help you if you stop talking about how unreasonable they might be.

Firing on a Friday 
Firing someone is one of the most difficult things you will ever do as a manager. It’s tempting to do it on a Friday afternoon. That way, you get it done and then everyone leaves and you can go have a drink.

A few reasons why you should do your firing on a Monday morning.

  • On Friday it’s more likely that your freshly ex-employee will rally the troops to go have drinks at the local pub. Lots of ill-will is spread at these events. Do your firing on a Monday when most people have to go to school, soccer practice, church, or to their families after work.
  • On Friday, your uncertain employees will go home and worry. They’ll worry that they are next. They’ll worry that it was because of something they did. They’ll worry about having a new boss / co-worker. Better to have them worrying on a Monday morning when they can come talk to you and you can help ease the transition.
  • Knowing that you will be dismissing someone is emotionally consuming. If you wait until the end of the week, you will be less productive all week and in most cases, you’ll have a lot of work on your plate once the separation is made. Best to get it done early so you can jump into the process of re-building your team.

Reading Emails While Talking with Someone
Few things make you feel more insignificant that hearing someone type while they are talking to you on the phone or watching them look at their Blackberry while you are having a face-to-face conversation.

When you make someone feel insignificant, you are being a jerk. Nobody likes to work for a jerk. Making people feel important will win you friends and influence. The easiest way to make people feel important is to give them your undivided attention.  It’s hard to do, but turn your computer screen off when someone stops by or calls and resist the urge to look at your Smartphone in the middle of a conversation.

Shari Storm is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Verity Federal Credit Union and is the author of the book “Motherhood is the New MBA”, available here.

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