As John Maxwell’s famous line goes “Everything rises and falls on leadership”, we believe that bad management is developed over time, just as good managers. Did you know that according to the 2016 survey disengaged managers cost the U.S. economy $90 billion? There is too much talk about disengaged employees but really not enough attention on disengaged managers. If the organization is big enough and structured correctly then managers are the buffers between ownership and employees. Therefore, they carry a lot of responsibility on daily basis. Often times, the ownership plays the role of management by engaging in day-to-day operation along their staff. We can always tell when there is a dysfunctional working environment there is a dysfunctional manager leading the way, or at least a yes-man or woman in management who is steered by a disconnected decision maker. Lets discuss the 7 Dangerous Signs of a Disengaged Manager and how to eliminate them or their poor activity from the work place.

  1. Self interest. It is perfectly natural to focus on your goals and managers always have either a deadline to meet or quota to reach. However, when we’re in a leadership role and have a team to oversee we have to focus not on our goals but the goals and performance of our staff. Managers must put their team’s interests first over their own to avoid being disengaged. As Zig Ziglar once said “You can have whatever you want if you help enough other people get what they want.”
  2. Favoritism. Parents do it with their children and coaches do it with their players, displaying favoritism. We are not suggesting to treat everyone equally, no this is not a communistic approach, we believe in the democratic way of leading the team — to give more attention to those that deserve it. We are talking about favoritism when the manager is presented with the same situation from two or more employees a more “attentive” behavior is displayed toward one particular employee. Displaying favoritism disrupts a healthy work flow and breeds distrust. You can read more about it and other factors that contribute to an unhealthy and disengaged working environment in our article 7 Steps to Gain and Keep Your Employee’s Trust
  3. Micromanagement. It’s good to know the details of your work and hold your employees accountable for their attention to detail but it’s detrimental to the employees when your manager is trying to micromanage the employee’s job. LET GO are the two key words when you’re managing. The main goal to management is really to raise self sufficient and self starting leaders that will excel in their work without your manager breathing down their neck. That will never happen if the employees sense that every step of their work is being looked at through a microscope. That’s a loud sign of distrust and no one wants to be seen as untrustworthy.
  4. Managing people. Wait, what? Isn’t managing people part of the manager’s job? No. The responsibility of the manager is to manage the projects, deadlines and tasks. The manager’s role is to lead his employees, not to manage them. It’s similar to micromanaging but it’s more than that. Your manager can be a macro manager and still trying to manage her employees. Where many managers fail is they think their staff are chess pieces, you can move them around, order them around and tell them what to do most of the time. The engaged managers are great leaders, they manage activities and lead their people.
  5. Unstable expectations. Setting expectations is the key to any healthy relationship. A relationship between any two people, colleagues, company and client and employer with employee. Your manager is expected to set the expectations for his/her employees. When erratic expectations arise employees are confused and lose interest in the project. We once had a client who prior to working with us had 45 employees between three different departments. Each of the departments received at least four expectations per week on their goal list. The owner/manager would continuously change his expectations and by the time his staff would learn of the first protocol they would need to know about the second one which would negate the first one…and there were two more to adjust to in that same week. Just reading that may be confusing, imagine working in that environment and trying to execute. This is a sure sign of a disengaged manager.
  6. Lack of steady assessment. Every great leader, manager, should continuously and periodically assess the progress of their team. Weekly meetings are a great example. We are not talking about a board room meeting to make an announcement. We mean a meeting where the manager takes inventory of his employees’ progress for the previous day(s) or week. Depending on the type of organization you have we sometimes recommend holding a brief daily morning meeting to handle that.
  7. Fear of growth. The type of fear we’re talking about is when the manager doesn’t want or is not interested in their staff growing. Growth professionally and/or personally. Naturally no manager wants to be replaced by their employee. You nor your manager wants to breed their own competition. But if your management operates out of fear then what would you say about your company? If your manager does her job well, receives great feedback from her staff, has great interpersonal working relationships with the staff and contributes towards a healthy work culture then she should not have to worry about replacement. Growth for employees has to be encouraged and suggested. Sometimes managers cocoon their staff from other “influencers” because in reality that is their ego in action. Other “influencers” can be managers from different department, guest speakers, consultants, etc. When the manager shows genuine interest in his employees’ growth he is more respected and highly spoken of to new employees.

These seven signs of disengaged managers are dangerous and need to be dealt with promptly. Company morale and culture lays in the hands of management. If you want to build a reputation of great employment you need to first start training and cultivating the right culture with your managers. Think of your manager as your coach, and you’re are the team owner. That coach needs to be in tune with his players. The coach needs to assign his players to the tasks based on skills, personality and potential. Unfortunately, most positions are filled based the salary requirements and virtually worthless resumes. If your manager isn’t leading the team based on it’s strengths but rather keeps pointing out their weaknesses then it’s time to replace the coach. Your manager’s role is to increase engagement with your employees to improve the bottom line of your business. Be sure to distribute anonymous surveys to your employees at least every quarter and ask a handful of questions about management. Areas of strength, favored aspects, areas of improvement and complaints. If you need help from a third party consultant you may always contact us. We’ll be more than glad to assist you.

Be great!!!

Raphael Mavi