The Top Seven Management Myths




Number seven is the myth of time. The myth of time is you don't have enough time to manage people. The reality is you don't have enough time to NOT manage people. If you're the manager and you don't manage, things go wrong. Then you spend all your management time putting out fires that never had to start in the first place. You don't have enough time NOT to manage people.

Number six is the myth of the natural leader. "I'm not a natural leader so therefore I'm not good at managing." The reality is that a lot of natural leaders are terrible managers. It would be like if you had natural math skill. That doesn't make you an accountant. It just makes you good at math. You have to learn how to be an accountant. And the same is true of managing. You have to learn the techniques of managing and practice them. And if you're a natural, then maybe it will be easier for you. If you're not a natural, then you have to work harder. But managing is a set of techniques and anyone can get better at managing by practicing proven techniques.

The number five myth is the myth of red tape: that I can't do anything as a manager because of all the rules and red tape and contracts. The reality? If you feel powerless, it's because you are focusing on all the things you can't control. You want to be powerful? Focus on the things you can control. Learn the rules; cut through the red tape. You don't need permission to be strong. You don't need permission to spend more time managing. You don't need permission to provide more guidance, direction and support to your people. That's the reality.

What's the number four myth in the workplace among managers? It's what we call the myth of the difficult confrontation. And here's the myth of the difficult confrontation. Managers say, "I'm hands off, see, because I don't want to have difficult confrontations with my employees. If I were hands on then I'd have all these difficult confrontations." What's the reality? The reality is, if you are a hands off manager, things go wrong and you make confrontations inevitable. The reality is that if you are a hands on manager, if you provide guidance, direction and support every step of the way, you'll probably never have a difficult confrontation with an employee because you'll solve small problems as soon as they happen and they'll never turn into big problems.

What's the number three myth? The number three myth is what we call the myth of the false nice guy. And here's the myth of the false nice guy. Managers say, "Well, I wouldn't want to be a strong manager because to be a strong manager you have to act like a jerk. See, I want to be a nice guy." The reality is, that when managers are hands off, hands off, hands off, things go wrong and then they come in and chew someone out, maybe the wrong person at the wrong time about the wrong thing and then they end up acting like jerks. When managers are hands off, they don't really know what is going on, they don't know who is doing what, where, why, when and how, but they tell people what to do and how to do it anyway. And that makes them seem like jerks. You want to be a real nice guy manager? Step up to the plate. Provide people with the guidance, direction and support they need. You want to be a real nice guy? Help people succeed. You want to be a real nice guy manager? Help people earn what they need. Because guess what? They're not doing this for their health; this is what they do for their livelihood. This is how they make a living. You want to be a real nice guy boss? Be a great boss; help people succeed.

What's the number two myth in the workplace? The number two myth is the myth of fairness. Here's the myth of fairness: the way to be fair is to treat everybody the same. I can't do something special for one person because then I would have to do that for everybody. But that's nonsense. What's the reality? The reality is what's fair is to do more for some people and less for others based on what they deserve. The reality is treating everybody the same is unfair. You want to be fair? Give every person the chance to succeed, give every person the chance to earn, and then do more for some people and less for others based on what they deserve. That's what's fair.

What's the number one myth in the workplace? The number one myth in the workplace is the myth of empowerment. Here's the myth of empowerment: people do their best work when they are left alone to manage themselves. What color is the sky in that world? That's just nonsense! People do their best work when they have guidance, direction and support from a more experienced person. Telling people, "Hey, sink or swim, figure it out, reinvent the wheel, do it however you think it should be done," that's not empowerment. That's setting people up for failure. That's not empowerment; that's negligence. You want to really empower people? Spell out expectations every step of the way. Set people up for success. Help them earn what they need. That's real empowerment.

BONUS MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICE
Do you currently manage any direct-reports with a significant QUALITY problem that you would like to help solve? Do you want the person to reduce his/her error rate? On every task? Most tasks? Or just one task?

With each task you'd like each person to improve, make a list of all the quality standards for that task. What are all the steps that need to be followed? What are all the specifications necessary to accomplish that task at the appropriate quality standard? Is there a check-list available spelling out each step in the process and all the specifications for each step? Is there a double-check procedure? Is there a triple-check procedure?

Then, in your next one-on-one or whenever you have the chance, you should ask the person to perform the task in question so you can watch. Watch him/her do the task. See if he/she is following the same steps you would follow. See if he/she is accomplishing each step with all the required specifications. See if he/she is using a check-list to make sure. See if he/she is using the double-check process to make sure each specification has been met with each step. See if he/she is using the triple-check process to make sure each specification has been met with each step. If not, you need to work with this person to make a check-list.

As long as the person DOES follow the same steps you would follow and accomplishes each step according to all the specifications, when you are watching, then you know the person is capable of achieving the necessary quality. That means it's almost definitely a problem of not double- or triple-checking quality before finishing. Reinforce the quality standards verbally. But there is simply no reason to try to do it without a check-list. Check-lists are the key to helping employees meet quality standards. Require a double-check. And require a triple-check. Follow-up routinely to make sure this individual is using the check-list THREE times with each task.
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