In the first part of this series, we discussed the pitfalls managers often stumble into during their first months on the job—not giving enough positive feedback, being too diplomatic around tough subjects, and suffocating their employees with directions.
But those aren’t the only common mistakes. In part two, we’ll cover using the same approach with every employee and leaving out the “why” when you make requests.
1. Treating everyone identically
Your employees each have their own unique work styles and preferences. If you ignore those differences and manage everyone the same way, you’ll squash a lot of their potential.
Case in point: imagine one person wants weekly in-person check-ins to ensure that they’re on the right course. Another would prefer to communicate updates via email, when necessary, and have a formal meeting once a month. Making the first employee wait four weeks for a face-to-face conversation would make him dissatisfied, frustrated, and unproductive, while asking the second employee to talk to you every week would make her annoyed and resentful.
The solution is simple. Ask people how they’d like to work with you. How often do they want to speak? Do they prefer email, quick meetings, phone calls, virtual calls, or chat? Would they rather receive more direction or less? What motivates them?
Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better you can manage your reports. In addition, they’ll be grateful for your thoughtfulness—which will encourage them to work harder.
2. Being too authoritative
If you want to demotivate your employees, then hand out seemingly arbitrary orders. Feeling like they’re supposed to do something “just because” will lead them to wonder why they’re doing it all.
Avoid this scenario by giving your directions context. Let’s say your manager has asked you to reduce spending this quarter, so you want to go through each employee’s typical monthly spend and find areas for cutting costs. You could just tell everyone to forward you a line-item spreadsheet of their expenses from the past four months—but the reaction will likely be less-than-pleased (even if they don’t show it).
Alternatively, you could say, “Hi guys. So-and-so reached out to me yesterday; we’re reducing spending across the organization so that we can have a really strong quarter. I want to make sure we’re using our budget as effectively as possible, so can everyone please send me a line-tem spreadsheet of your expenses from Q3? This information will really help me figure out how we can cut back as a team.”
With this explanation, your reports will be far less irritated about taking the time to create the spreadsheet—all because you explained your rationale.
Being a new manager isn’t easy. You’re dealing with a lot of responsibility, not to mention many situations you’ve never encountered before. Don’t worry if your first year isn’t perfect.
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