How managers create disengaged “paycheck employees”

One of the biggest mistakes new managers and supervisors make who have not had formal leadership training is treating people the way they want to be treated, mistakenly managing people the way they want to be managed. But isn’t that the golden rule? Yes, but many managers and supervisors misapply the golden rule in two core areas of leadership- communication and motivation of staff.

The golden rule is about treating people fair, with respect and dignity, and most people prefer that. The mistake I often see in government agencies, school districts, and private companies is that managers and supervisors communicate and motivate staff based on their personal preferences. For example, some managers prefer people to be blunt and just tell them the hard truth, and when they communicate with their staff, guess what, they are blunt and abrasive! They don’t realize that not everyone is receptive to this style of communication, and so some employees quit and leave, others quit and stay, (they are only there for the paycheck now) which is worse?

Another is example is motivating staff. I’ll never forget when I was coaching a manager in Houston, Texas. He was about to start his team meeting and wanted to praise and recognize one of his staff members. So he politely asked her to stand up and for the team to give her a round of applause for going the extra mile and closing out a major project. I closely watched her body language as she manufactured an anxious smile in front of 60 people. After the meeting, I asked the manager what was your reason for praising and recognize her that way, he simply stated “who wouldn’t want to be recognized in front of their peers and my boss who attends as well.”

I had a chance to talk with the woman later that week and congratulated her on the accomplishment as well, and I mentioned that she seemed uncomfortable. She responded quietly, “I hate when he does that, I know he means well, but I just don’t like being in the spotlight in front of all my colleagues that way.” I responded back to her, “how would you prefer to be recognized?” “I’m fine with a just one-on-one, thank you and great job,” she replied.

Some managers and supervisors have note been trained to recognize their leadership blind spots, which are actions/behaviors they are unaware of that negatively impact their staff.

Train your managers and supervisors now to avoid making your team disengage?

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