Friday, May 9, 2014

Rookie Management Techniques

Saying how troubled the business is that you’ve just taken over. That way, if your results are poor, it’s not your fault, because you inherited a dog. And if the results are good, you’ve been successful in the face of almost-impossible circumstances. People see through this.

Talking badly about people who quit. Like talking badly about the business you’ve just taken over, this is another transparent means to manage your ego. But this only serves to make your team wonder what you might say about them one day. And while being gracious to departing colleagues might seem obvious, you’d be amazed how often “Well, I was just about to fire him anyway” is said, even at the most senior levels.

Immediately replacing the old team with “your” team, and particularly a team that looks and sounds a lot like you. There’s comfort in choosing everyone on your team, all of whom then “owe” you for their jobs. But the best business strategies can emerge out of discomfort, and that can mean having people on your team whom you may not particularly want to have to your home for dinner.

Getting detached from the clients. Customers and clients are messy. It can be very easy to spend more time away from them. PowerPoint slides and spreadsheets deliver much crisper answers than what you can hear from an actual person.

“Taking the hill” on your strategy without first getting buy-in from the team. The days of decreeing a strategy and then telling folks to execute on it are fading in the rear-view mirror. And that’s a good thing, because a strategy that doesn’t incorporate what your team and customers can tell you will almost certainly be sub-optimal. I’ve seen more than one manager decree a not-well-thought-out strategy and have his team essentially wait him out; after all, the next boss will be announced soon.

Not recognizing that your words carry more weight than they used to. Once you’re in management, your words (and your mood and your tone) are subject to interpretation by those who can be impacted by them. A poorly thought-out comment or joke can cause significant unintended anxiety.

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