I came across a great article on Inc. today by Geoffrey James. It listed 9 core beliefs of horrible bosses. I’m sharing this as a bit of a public service. Most of the core beliefs he list sound horrible to those managers who know how to manage well, but even they sometimes run afoul of a couple of these. It’s worth giving the list a read to see what areas you can focus on to strengthen yourself as a manager. Plus, hopefully it will make life a little better for a few employees out there.
The belief that I found myself to be guilty of the most, early in my career, was the fourth on the list. If something really needed to be done, I only relied on myself to do it. That problem was partly due to my perfectionism and partly due to experiences where people had dropped the ball. I got tired of trying to fix things at the last minute and preferred to take care of those issues myself. I eventually learned that I was approaching things the wrong way and started working on ensuring that the people I was working with had both the resources and time needed to get their jobs done. Low and behold, the issues dropped off and everyone, myself included, produced higher quality work.
The one belief that I think might be misinterpreted is actually the first on the list. It’s about management being about command and control. The article says that horrible bosses think they are supposed to order employees to do something and make sure that they do it. James posits that smart bosses know that management is about helping employees to be successful and making the tough decisions that they can’t make on their own.
I would say it’s a little of A and a little of B. Sometimes you do have to assign tasks. You also have to ensure that tasks are being completed. Otherwise, that can have negative implications for other team members that are relying on their work. A smart manager does go beyond that though and ensures that the employee has what is necessary to be successful. However, I disagree that bosses should make decisions that are too hard for their employees.
Employees should present a proposed solution to their boss when they don’t have the authority to make the decision. Or if the boss is the only one with the information necessary to make an informed decision, the employee should speak with the boss and work towards getting the right decision made. The boss should not be making hard decisions for the employee. That is the opposite of what a smart boss would want to do because it disempowers the employee. Besides, if the employee has been doing all the work on a task, they should be the closest to understanding any complexities surrounding the decision and, in most cases should have the best all around perspective.
Overall, I enjoyed the article and it got me thinking, which is the most important point of an article like this. If you have any thoughts on the list or any thoughts on my thoughts of the list, let me know in the comments below.