Nothing is more frustrating than the mistake you don’t know that you are making. It’s frustrating, because if you knew where in the process you went wrong, you could correct it. So you find yourself going in circles. Here are two common mistakes managers and leaders make that throw the entire teams into flux.
Partial Delegation of Authority
I like to call this one, Peek-a-boo authority, because: now you see it, now you don’t. It’s when managers in an effort to delegate authority, assign a role to a colleague but arbitrarily usurp that authority in sporadic phases. Sure, you do not intend to usurp the authority you so recently delegated, but maybe someone from that team comes to you with a question, or you’d like to implement a more efficient execution method. So naturally, you dive right in. Don’t!
It is impossible for a team to truly work interdependently when an outside force or authority continually disrupts the internal process of team-building. A dis-empowered leader becomes merely a mascot with little value or direction to add to the team. Team members are not able to fully commit to the leader, because the authority is periodically usurped by someone outside of the team. This throws off the power dynamic making loyalty to the assigned leader impossible. It also cheapens the trustworthiness of the outside authority figure, because team members see disorganization and inauthenticity in the promise of the delegating body/individual.
Solution Choose wisely. Select a leader with solid skills, a strong work ethic & commitment to people/company. Invest authority and do not divest or meddle in the team’s affairs. If you are concerned about output, request briefing meetings with the whole group and schedule regular brainstorming meetings with the designated leader. Allow your designated leader to introduce and implement those ideas with the team.
Demotivating by Example
Nothing stagnates a workplace faster than when leadership begins to cut corners and abdicate responsibility. No workplace or individual is perfect, but when leadership continually finds ways to elude its duties and pass them on to subordinate staff or get into work at noon, and leave early; a trickle-down effect begins. Cutting quality, deceiving the client, eventually that behavior will be mimicked by staff. If you believe that, “I’m the boss, so I can come or go whenever I want,” that attitude will circulate around to staff. Before long a kick-the-can-down-the-road culture emerges. The mail room clerk ends up writing the important brief and senior executives abscond for drinks at lunchtime. Whether we like it or not, leadership sets the tone for the entire organization. This often manifests in what appears to be gross incompetence among the staff where deliverable don’t get delivered and no one knows why; or responsibility is passed down to the only employee who can’t further transfer blame. This solves nothing.
Solution No matter how much you are paying your employees, they are taking cues from management. Unless you hire a saint, who is seeking approval from the divine, then you might want to rethink the example that you or management has set for staff. Instead, set up mechanisms at the office where staff get support, reasonable downtime, vacation and rewards. And stick to it!