Being a good manager isn’t a popularity contest. But if employees perceive their bosses negatively, everybody suffers. The worst part? You might not even realize you’re doing anything wrong!
It all comes down to respect. Have it from the people who work for you, and you’re golden. Don’t and you’ll have an uphill battle on your hands every step of the way.
The problem is, many of the things that might undermine your respect with your staffers are done with the best of intentions.
Bad bosses blame others
Clearly it’s out-of-bounds for a supervisor to blame a subordinate when something goes wrong. But what if it’s another department or a supplier that’s shouldering the blame?
That can be just as bad. If every time there’s a problem it’s presented as someone else who caused it, staffers will start to wonder whether you just cannot take responsibility. (It also sets an example that it’s OK to pass the buck.)
Bad bosses drag their feet
Granted, there are a lot of serious decisions that need to be made right now that impact not only Finance but the entire company. And you don’t want to make rash moves.
But too much hemming and hawing or inaction sends a bad message. Good leaders take action. You might think it comes across as thoughtful that you take a while to make up your mind, but it can send a message of wishy-washiness.
Bad bosses can’t be trusted
Remember how the characters in Seinfeld would take private information and put it “in the vault”? That’s what you need to do when a staffer comes to you with a problem.
And these days there can be a lot of sensitive issues (like people’s financial woes). Pass on someone’s confidences to another colleague — even with the best of intentions at heart — and you can bet it will get around. Once it gets back to your staffer, you’ll likely lose their trust forever.
Bad bosses get (and accept) a free pass
Everybody makes mistakes. But if you’re a leader and you screw up, there need to be some consequences and the people you work for need to know about it.
It’s no one’s business what’s going in your personnel file. But people do need to realize that you don’t get a pass because you’re high up in the organization.
Bad bosses are credit hogs
Everyone’s seen those awards acceptance speeches where stars explain they’re nothing without “the little people.” And you’re probably careful to explain that all Finance successes are a team effort.
But to make sure staffers realize you truly believe that, make it a point to talk specifically about their contributions, both in public and to them individually. Praise comes across as significantly more sincere when it’s as concrete as possible.