Four Things I Learned From Being The Worst Manager Ever

  1. Not developing your team is dumb.  I was a new manager at a financial services Fortune 500 company.  In reality, the team of people I managed knew much more about our service and what the clients needed.  However, ego got in my way so when team members wanted to be assigned to various projects or take training courses that seemed extraneous to me, I vetoed their requests. I was managing a team of professionals in California from my offices in Chicago…the whole episode was a case study on how NOT to manage people.  My first mistake was thinking that people needed to be managed.  Instead of being a resource for people, I was a brick wall.  Before long, team members were deserting my ship and with good reason.
  2. Micromanaging is dumber.  “Keeping tabs on people” doesn’t work.  The old model of being at your desk and nose to the grindstone is dead.  One of my team members told me that I really needed to get off everyone’s back and let people complete assignments in their timeframes.  I was pushing people to complete activities before deadlines so I wouldn’t look bad.  I took it to the extreme and alienated all of them.  What I learned is that employees don’t need someone to stand over them or check on them every hour.  If you hire people with the same values and goals as you and your organization, hold them accountable for their projects and get out of their way.  Professionals want to make a contribution and get paid for the results they produce.  Micromanagement breeds distrust and anxiety.
  3. Lack of recognition for accomplishments is the dumbest.  Looking back this was my biggest mistake.  Because I thought I needed to look good to my manager, I didn’t recognize or share the spot light with the team.  I now realize that people thrive on earned recognition.  When someone consistently exceeds expectations, they have earned recognition.  Helping people succeed is true leadership.
  4. Hoarding information is beyond dumb.  I took the phrase “knowledge is power” literally and didn’t communicate information.  I’d convinced myself that I didn’t have time to communicate goals, client feedback, or division information.  My rationale was that if I knew what was going on strategically, the team didn’t need to know….it would be a distraction.  Again, it was an ego trip for me.  People need to know what’s going on in the company and how they contribute to the bottom line.

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