I have a friend who, when we were working for the same company, had a manager who was the walking definition of the Peter Principle. I will admit, I had never seen someone fail upward as quickly as he. And when he failed upward once again (this time to another company), he asked my friend to recommend him on a hiring site. So she did. Now if you know my friend as long as I have, you realize that for her, sarcasm was more than an art; it was a contact sport. So, she was honest. She simply said that she worked as hard for him as he did for her.
While that statement can be taken in two different ways, you need to ask yourself, how would your team say it? If you conclude that your team would say it the way my friend meant it, then you’re in big trouble. So what are you doing or not doing to have your team actually work as hard for you as you do for them?
- You Treat Them Like Employees. If you know nothing about your team as people, they know it. One of the best leaders I have ever worked under had a knack for knowing what was going on in the lives of, not just her immediate reports, but even people working the front line. When the Senior vice president knows your mom is sick and is asking how she is, how would you feel? Now, I’m not saying you should know everything about everyone, but, try to get to know your team. You cannot fake this.
- You Don’t Fight For Them. When you don’t stand up for people, you lose their trust. Your team just pulled out a project that was “doomed”? Are you letting the world know about it? A member of your team just graduated Summa Cum Laude and you haven’t congratulated them? You notice that the most productive person on your team hasn’t received a raise in two years? Why are you not championing getting them a deserved increase?
- You Don’t Prioritize If everything is important, the team can’t focus on critical tasks. Force yourself to rank each task, dividing them evenly between high medium, and low. Honor that list. And when customers tell you that everything is top priority, then guess what? YOU get to choose what is most important to you. That helps focus your customer.
- You Don’t Model Balance. You say weekends are precious for families, then bombard them with email on Sunday afternoon. You say that you appreciate a work/life balance, then continually make your team work 12 hour days. Which is it? Take a day off – or learn how to do “delayed send” so your messages won’t go out until Monday morning. As for the other, either learn to estimate better or hire more staff.
- You Micromanage They have no room to make decisions on their own. Just stop it. You have a team that knows how to do the job. Don’t believe it? Pick a few low risk projects; commit to doing nothing unless being asked for help. The are multiple ways up the mountain. Your way may not be the best.
- You’re great at assigning work. Doing work? Not so much. I know, you’re a manager. There’s a lot on your plate. Getting in the trenches with the team is not something you can always do. But set aside some time to do it. You might be amazed at what your team will tell you.
- You’re A Suck-up. Deadly, this is. Do this, you should not. This shows a lack of spine – and could mean you expect the same from them. Try problems go up, complements come down. You are not expected to win every battle. But you are not expected to fold like a cheap suit at every turn, either.
- You are indecisive. Stop trying to hedge your bets. Your team needs to know which way to go. Make the choice and go. You may be wrong. Own it. At least you have made the decision. Being a waffle is not being a leader.
These are all little things. But they do add up over time. It is said that people do not leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses. Don’t let your people leave you because of you. Work harder for them as they do for you, and you will have a team that will stick together.