A good manager is a master of setting goals, providing the right tools and resources, and motivating workers to reach new heights. By all rights, a boss should be considered a supportive ally to employees and their careers. But as one often quoted Gallup survey indicates, poor employee-manager relationships are a leading concern for seven out of ten Americans who are not engaged at work.
A common thread in bad management is that bosses often misuse tools and strategies due to misconceptions about how to boost employee performance. Through practices which are at best contradictory and at worst destructive to relationships, workers are often justified in believing that their managers are psychopaths – which, it turns out, is often the case.
Although this post won’t cover how to treat personality disorders, it will cover some popular management strategies that are often poorly implemented due to misunderstandings about employee performance. By avoiding these pitfalls, you’ll have a good shot at proving your sanity to your team once and for all.
Stop demanding multitasking
Multitasking is so readily expected in certain occupations that it’s just about as likely to appear on applicants’ resumes as “works well with others” and “detail-oriented.” However, managers expecting their employees to produce quality work while multitasking may not realize that they’re driving employees crazy by asking for two completely different things.
On writing about multitasking, Dr. Bruce Weinstein on Bloomberg Business says, “…It’s unethical, and good managers won’t do it themselves and will not require it of those they manage.” In several studies he cites, researchers discovered that multitasking invariably reduces the quality of work and drives down employee satisfaction.
Other than the contradictory nature of multitasking at work, demanding multitasking can communicate to workers that they must always be online or on-call. These bosses often err when it comes to respecting employees’ personal lives, and this also means less time to recharge, lower morale, and consequently even lower productivity at work.
Avoid using self-assessment if you aren’t regularly touching base
Self-assessments are undoubtedly valuable in building personal accountability. They provide managers a way to build consensus with employees about their performance and expectations. But without a well-maintained dialogue outside of these meetings, workers are more likely to view these evaluations with a degree of paranoia towards their boss. Unfortunately, managers frequently use these assessments to create time for that dialogue rather than communicating on a regular basis – which can only lead to bigger communication problems.
Another catch? Overemphasizing personal accountability is one of the most common misconceptions in management, often discouraging employees from talking about their problems. That means that performance reviews and self-assessments can often be wildly different in these meetings, and this can only deepen the rift between employee and manager instead of building towards mutual goals.
Employees need to be aware of how their self-assessment will be used; they should never have reason to believe that they will be used for decisions regarding wages or termination. Without making these points clear, bosses are likely to create full-blown turf wars between employees. While assessments are meant to facilitate constructive criticism, they can be a huge source of conflict if the manager using them out of an appropriate context.
Don’t force your new “productivity hack” on the team
Just to be clear, it’s not a sign that your boss needs to be committed when they place a tomato-shaped kitchen timer on your desk and tells you that something called “the Pomodoro Technique” is going to dictate your work schedule from now on. But it could be a sign that they don’t really understand your needs as an employee.
Office culture is quick to latch onto productivity-boosting tools and strategies as a way to become more efficient at work. They can produce real results by helping individuals better organize tasks and manage their time. And as a manager, it’s practically in your job description to identify new ways to boost productivity.
However, productivity tricks are never one-size-fits-all, and there is no blanket solution that is going to mesh with the workflow of each individual on your team. Managers need to recognize and understand the differences between the individuals they lead. While it’s perfectly fine to suggest new productivity hacks, expecting an entire department to change their workstyle due to your personal gains isn’t rational.
While a surprising number of managers are actually psychopaths, you may find it helpful to avoid these management mistakes to assure your team that you’re not a part of that number. There’s a plethora of great tools and hacks to become a more effective team, but nothing can replace good communication and a collaborative work environment.