Having a high position in your company is so much more than a slightly nicer paycheck and respectful nods from those you pass in the hallway. If you’re a manager who wonders why you ever agreed to this promotion, or an entry-level worker who dreams of power and prestige, remember some of the things that leaders must overcome in order to succeed.
1. Displeasing Your Employees
Managers often dread hearing what their colleagues think about them (especially if they’ve made any unpopular decisions lately), but they need feedback as much as anyone. To ease the sting of collecting reviews, try to make the feedback process more fun by offering small incentives to each employee who gives a prompt response. Treat your employees with the same dignity you want to grant to your faithful customers: loyalty to you and to the company should be a pleasure, not a chore.
Don’t leave room for long-winded complaints. Specify that if an employee has a serious problem with you, a private discussion is necessary. Written grievances don’t allow for the dialogue you need if something’s really wrong. Once your responses are collected, don’t do anything until your own superiors have helped you sort out the helpful critiques from the petty complaints.
If an employee does request a meeting, there’s potential for conflict. It’s uncomfortable, but you’ll fail as a leader if you only run away from it. You aren’t the manager so you can be everyone’s friend; you’re there to make decisions that no one else can make. If you care so much about your employees’ approval that it’s difficult for you to make firm choices, you may not have the right personality for management.
One of those tough decisions is letting someone go. You won’t be the manager that your remaining employees need if you can’t cut loose the ones who hold everyone else back. If you’re too close with the employee in question, you may have made it harder on yourself than you should have. Friendships with subordinates create many ways for the power imbalance to foster bitterness. Your employees’ displeasure with different things will be easier to bear when no relationships outside of work are affected.
2. Dealing with Problem Staff
There’s always that one person who makes every office cringe. They come in late, spread rumors, or can’t start a pot of coffee without cheerleaders to reassure them that they’re not messing up. Problematic employees are tricky to handle, even if there are obvious reasons to fire them. Before you jump straight to the firing, do some research to find out why they’re so difficult and if they’re even aware of it. There are many redemptive measures you can take to let this worker know you see a problem and are willing to help them solve it. If they refuse the chance you offer, then you’ve done your best, but letting them go will be necessary.
3. Delegating Responsibility
Many managers, especially new ones, are convinced that they are the only ones who know how to do things properly. That can make certain tasks hard to delegate. Unfortunately, the more you take on, the more you’ll find yourself drowning in minutia and hating your job. If you waste time on tasks that you enjoy or want executed a certain way, your managerial responsibilities are going undone. Seek instead to empower your employees through extra training and encouragement, so when you do need to hand off an assignment, you can be confident in the results.
Related is the temptation to make all decisions alone, even when getting others’ input is appropriate (or required). If you’re about to make a choice that would affect your subordinates, and you have clearance to talk about it, try pulling them aside individually for three to five-minute mini-meetings. The time constraint will help you cut to the heart of the issue, and they may have valuable insight on potential outcomes that wouldn’t have occurred to you.
You may have a constant need to know what’s happening with a project at work; or you may live with the impression that if you’re ever unavailable, you’re a bad boss. Both of these mindsets will hinder you from effective leadership. If you’re too connected all the time, you lose the ability to make wise work decisions. This is bad enough for the average employee, but if a manager succumbs, things will disintegrate quickly.
Don’t let anyone, including yourself, make you feel guilty for taking a real vacation when you need it. At least part of every weekend should be a work-free zone. You may not think you can pull it off, but you can. Personal recharge time is a non-negotiable component of a successful career.
How are you doing in these areas? If you aren’t sure where you could improve, invite someone you trust to read this article and give you any pointers they see. Having an accountability partner is very important for anyone in leadership, so find a reliable person to tell you when you could be doing better. Once you’ve corrected these problems in yourself, you’ll have a better view when pointing them out to your employees, and everyone will be on the way to a happier workplace.
Featured image: gentlepurespace
This post was sponsored by Signazon, and written in collaboration with Katherine Halek.
Katherine Halek is the lead advertising and print strategy advisor at Signazon, leading online printers that provide marketing collateral for thousands of small businesses around the United States. Katherine enjoys writing about leadership, marketing, and the ins and outs of business management.