The day you were promoted to being a manager was arguably the best day of your life. So, now that you’ve finally gotten your chance to lead, why are you so stressed out and disappointed in how your team is performing?
There’s a lot to celebrate about becoming a manager for the first time, but there are a lot of new pressures, too. Suddenly, you’re in the ranks of employees that need to be aware of complex behind-the-scenes activities that weren’t really on your radar before, like managing budgets, organizing objectives and approving schedules, all while carefully managing how you interact with your employees.
Whether you’re new to the company or a seasoned pro, there’s a steep learning curve when you manage other employees for the first time that can sometimes lead to performance issues of your own. Here are four signs that the way you’re managing might be the biggest roadblock for your team’s performance and productivity.
1. You’re Getting Inconsistent Results
A lot of factors can affect a team’s performance, from individual team members with difficult personal situations to sudden changes in your company or industry. But sometimes getting inconsistent results is actually a product of poor management.
In his article, “When the Manager Is the Problem,” David Brock, consultant and author of The Sales Manager Survival Guide, notes that inconsistent results can often reveal the difference between a bad manager and a good one. While a bad manager can sometimes create good short-term results, weak management tactics like pandering, bullying or manipulation aren’t sustainable and rarely deliver in the long-term. Brock suggests that in addition to keeping an eye on their team’s output, managers need to take the time to drill down and understand the underlying reasons that impact that performance and correct them — only then can a team achieve its full potential.
2. You’re Too Nice
When you first became a manager, you were probably visited by visions of all the awful bosses you’ve ever had and you promised you’d never make the same mistakes. Unfortunately, this can cause some new managers to over-correct and be too nice, permitting inappropriate comments and behaviors instead of quickly and firmly addressing boundaries with your employees.
In her article, “4 Reasons to Beware the Too-Nice Manager,” Alison Green, author of the blog and book Ask a Manager, explores the downsides of being too nice, including the tendency to avoid hard decisions and conversations, a difficulty setting and enforcing standards and sending fuzzy messages to your team about authority. If you want to deliver great results and maintain a positive team culture, you'll be far more effective if you embrace your authority with confidence and focusing on being fair, positive and straightforward.
3. You’re Letting Your Age Hold You Back
As of 2017, Millennial workers account for more than a third of the workforce. Coupling higher numbers with a strong drive to climb the corporate ladder, it should be no surprise that as many as 38 percent of Americans have had a boss who is younger than them. Of course, age doesn’t make the manager. But a significant age difference can make it hard for a manager to calmly and firmly assert authority at work. This can lead you right back to the “too nice” problem of being perceived as a pushover by your employees.
How can you find a balance between too nice and too firm with employees 10-15 years your senior? Take a tip from workplace diversity consultant Jennifer L. FitzPatrick. In the article, “How To Make Managing Someone Older Than You Less Awkward,” FitzPatrick recommends bringing the focus back to the discipline of management rather than expertise. Affirm to your employees that you don’t know everything they know, but that your goal is to make the most of their talent and expertise to achieve the company’s goals.
4. There’s Lots of Turnover
Turnover and poor performance aren’t exclusively tied to the quality of a manager, but when one in two employees report they’ve left a job to get away from their boss, it’s a metric worth monitoring. Does it seem like you’re always in a hiring cycle? Are all of your hardest workers leaving? Take a step back to consider whether it’s related to how you’re managing your team and then put some hiring practices in place to make it easier to determine the cause of your turnover issues.
One way to avoid this problem, especially if you work in a startup, comes from Steli Efti, cofounder and CEO of Close.io, who recommends hiring two or three people at a time. In the Stripe Atlas Community AMA with Efti, he notes that if you hire one person at a time and they don’t perform well, it will be hard to tell if it’s the employee, the market or the way you’re managing them. If you hire in small teams of two and three people at a time, it will be easier to see the impact of how you’re managing your team.
As a manager, you’re going to have to deal with plenty of issues that stem from your employees and clients. But what if the problem is you? Take this list to heart to make sure you’re getting the best performance out of your team — and yourself.