Are You Demoralizing Your Staff?

Written by: Lisa Guida

Are You Making These 10 Key Management Mistakes?

Bad Choices with Promoting and Hiring

Whether it is through nepotism, bias or some other form of toxic office politics, when a manager promotes or hires the wrong person, especially when that person will have a sub-management position of their own, it creates a negative working environment and precipitous decline in productivity. Management positions have their perks— and also their responsibilities, and one of them is hiring the right people. Hiring good people is your job. A manager who fails to live up to this task is not worthy of the title. But even more damaging than this is a bad choice in promoting. Good employees feel insulted when they are passed over in favor of someone who is incompetent or schmoozed their way into the position. Nobody works well with people they resent, and it is one of the primary reasons why good staff leave.

Not Training Staff Properly

A classic and often fatal mistake managers make is failing to establish a training program for their staff. Many times a “bad” employee is bad because no one ever taught him how to be a good one. If you have a terrible staff but there is no program for fixing the problem or preventing it in the first place, you have to ask yourself, “Who is really at fault here?”A good manager should take ownership of the training process from A to Z. This includes designing a program, testing different approaches and approving all aspects of training. As a manager, you should have clear expectations for where an employee should be in 90 days, and have a competent plan for getting there. This also has to be made very clear to the employee at the beginning in an exciting way. This is another one of those fundamental things too many managers forget. If you’re not training your people properly, you’re not doing your job. Period.


You knew this was coming. By now everyone knows that micromanagement is a bad form of leadership in business, but it hasn’t stopped millions of bosses from doing it all time.Micromanaging is based on the assumption that the manager knows how to do everyone else’s job better than them. And you know what? Sometimes that may even be true. But that doesn’t change the fact that employees do not like or respect a boss who breathes down their neck. When you micromanage your staff, you take away their sense of responsibility. They no longer take ownership over their performance since you’re going to intervene whenever they do. Resentment builds and morale plummets. Micromanage your staff and in no time at all, you’ll have a demotivated workforce and lower productivity.There is also the issue of opportunity cost; when a manager is busy telling a new employee how to organize his desk or the landscaping crew where to set up the sprinklers (Steve Jobs once actually did this before changing his ways), he or she is neglecting their actual responsibilities as a manager. It’s amazing how many managers forget such a basic concept: the purpose of hiring in the first place is to delegate, so you can focus on the higher-level things you’re actually supposed to be doing. Give praise, constructive criticism and guidance when it’s called for, and trust the people who work for you to do their jobs.

Burning Out Employees

There are a number of ways that bad managers burn out good employees and make them seek refuge in a new job. The most obvious is by simply overworking them. Studies have shown productivity drops enormously after 50 hours per week, to the point where it’s almost useless to keep putting in more time.Bad managers are only interested in results. They don’t care if their employees are approaching their breaking point. But they do care about squeezing as much work out of them as possible until they do. This is essentially a Machiavellian, “ends-justify-the-means” approach to management, and is one of the quickest ways to turn good employees into exhausted, demoralized ones.Another quick road to employee burnout is the failure to establish and respect an appropriate work-life balance. While this has become a somewhat overused catchphrase in the business world, it is still a valid and all too often neglected concept. The lack of a work-life balance is basically a boundary issue; a manager failing to realize that they have taken over their employee’s life.Recognize and respect the fact that your people need space. Just because email and smart phones allow us to be in contact at all times, it doesn’t necessarily mean its’ always a good idea to do so. Establishing boundaries is a responsibility on both the manager and employees part.

Breaking Promises to Employees

When you, as a manager, fail to follow through on requests or promises to staff, no matter how big or small, it wounds the confidence and trust your staff have in you.If an employee promises to take care of an extra task for you, and then neglects to do it, would you trust them? Your employees feel the same way when you do the same.When you repeatedly assure the staff that bad lighting will be replaced, that the copier will be repaired, that the computer system will be upgraded— and you don’t make it happen, you’ve lost your employee’s respect. Soon it will encompass the organization as a whole you have a team of workers who consider their workplace a joke. Management doesn’t take things seriously, why should they? Good employees will leave. Bad ones will stick around and slack off.

No Clearly Stated Goals or Metrics

If you have not clearly explained what the departmental or company goals are, and the metrics that need to be met in order to achieve them don’t be surprised when they are not met. What happens instead is turmoil and emotional games to figure out what is important, and non-stop fire fighting as you jump from one crisis to next with no clear vision on where you’re supposed to be or how to get there.

They Do Not Admit Mistakes

One of a manager’s essential tasks is setting an example for the rest of the staff. If you make a mistake, and refuse to take responsibility for it, you not only alienate your employees, but you communicate that is okay for them to do this too. And make no mistake, if you don’t set the example for how to handle errors, you will soon find yourself in a workplace riddled with mistakes and somehow, amazingly, it is never anyone’s fault.The worst example of this is a manager asking an employee to participate in hiding it from upper management. This sets a precedent not only for not accepting accountability, but for dishonesty as well. Related: How I Learned to Hire For the Future

Not Giving Credit for a Job Well Done

This is pretty self-explanatory, and to anyone with an ounce of emotional intelligence, pretty obvious: people like to be acknowledged and appreciated. When your team does an exceptional job, they need to be praised and rewarded. People work harder and are more mentally and emotionally invested in an organization when they feel that organization respects them and recognizes the value they bring to the table. This is Psych 101-level stuff, but you’d be surprised how many mangers neglect to give credit when credit is due. (Of course, you can bet your life it is the same manager who never misses a chance to call out and blame an employee for bad performance!)

Pointless Meetings

Pointless meetings with no clear agenda are like smoking; everyone knows you shouldn’t do it, yet so many managers just can’t help themselves.Meetings are a bad managers version of “busywork”. It makes them feel like they’re “getting things done” when all they are really doing is making their employees talk about their jobs instead of actually doing them. Yes, obviously you need to hold meetings sometimes, but a good manager’s approach to meetings is elegant and precise.There is a defined purpose for the meeting, a list of objectives to get done during said meeting, and a time frame in which this will happen; that is, an end time. It’s not “meeting at 2pm”, it’s “meeting from 2 to 3pm”. And they make sure the only people at the meeting are ones who actually need to be there. There is a clearly defined Why, What, Who and When. Finally actions are agreed upon assigned with timeframes and measurements.

They Lack Interest in Their Staff’s Professional Development

This ties back to the mindset found in #4 of just viewing employees as resources to be exploited and discarded when they no longer function. Bad managers do not budget for, or even consider the professional development of their staff. All requests to attend a conference or take a training course are turned down. The value of such things is completely lost on them.If you’re fortunate enough to have employees who are interested enough in their own development to suggest something like this, you should consider yourself lucky and seriously look into taking them up on it. It shows great initiative on their part and wise judgment on yours. If none of your staff have proposed such an idea, perhaps you should make the first move and suggest it yourself. You may be surprised by who steps up to the plate.Well, do any sound familiar? Why not take some time this afternoon and see if you can reverse this and reach out to your staff. It will change things for the better for you, your staff and your customers. You may well get the notice of senior management as well. When’s the last time that happened?