6 new year’s resolutions for managers

If you’re a manager, I wonder if you’ve made any new year’s resolutions related to management. Unless you’re a perfect manager — and I’m pretty sure that none of us are — there are a ton of different areas you can resolve to work on. I suggest six of them today at the Fast Track blog by Intuit QuickBase, including giving more feedback, delegating more, making sure you retain your best people, among others.

Take a look here. And share your own!

{ 30 comments… read them below }

  1. VictoriaHR

    My friend is struggling with management at his job. He is in IT and a member (peer) on his team is running roughshod over everyone else, bullying and bossing around the newer members of the team. My friend isn’t the type to get involved, although he does pull the bullied people aside later and tell them to not let that happen again. He says his manager sits on the other side of the wall with headphones on all day, and has been told about the crappy coworker, but does nothing. Very frustrating.

        1. Ruffingit

          That is what I read as well, but it could be interpreted in a couple of ways. Could be that she meant he pulls aside the bully and made a typo. Could also be he pulls aside those being bullied and gives them a talk about not letting this guy run over them. That makes some sense too.

          1. VictoriaHR

            “Could also be he pulls aside those being bullied and gives them a talk about not letting this guy run over them.”

            Yep. That. He’s friends with the bullied coworkers so he probably just mentions it at lunch or whatnot. He’s a pretty passive guy and an introvert, so I imagine he’s not comfortable saying, “Hey, stop that, it’s not your job to tell them what to do!” Which is what I would do.

      1. Anonymous

        Well he’s not getting involved so he’s doing something that is completely ineffective in order to not get involved?

  2. Lisa

    My new director says yes to everything, making my job very reactive. I hate it and I thinking of leaving because of it. I’ve told her that I don’t work well like that, but the owner picked her and her style so no reason to try and complain anymore. I’ll just leave, and go somewhere that wants well-thought out work and not stuff slapped together barely scratching the surface. She’ll be surprised, but I’ve told her I don’t like this style that the department is moving toward.

    1. Ruffingit

      That is irritating. There’s a reason people don’t typically pick more than two majors in college or work in more than one or two fields. In order to really do great work, you need to focus your attention. Saying yes to everything means you get 10 projects done at, say, 70% whereas if you said yes to what really matters, you would get 3 things done at 100%. It’s hard to be in a workplace where people don’t focus on what really matters and, at the end of the day, your work product is basically shoddy because of it. I can understand the frustration you feel.

  3. Former Usher

    Number 4 (feedback) really struck a chord with me. Weekly feedback would be awesome, but at this point I’d settle for monthly or even quarterly feedback.

  4. Joey

    Take time to celebrate the positive.

    So often we as managers are hyper focused on what went wrong and moving on to the next task. The problem with that behavior is that you (and your team) become known for always stumbling.

    But if the focus becomes the wins, both large and small guess what you become known for? Getting stuff done well.

    So how do you celebrate wins? Want to know who does it right? Look at sports teams. Every first down is celebrated, every touchdown is celebrated, every good pass and dunk is celebrated. Every single game that results in a win is celebrated.

    In the business world this means sharing positive news with your stakeholders, sharing the nice email, make a big deal out of finishing an important project, recognizing specific tasks that specific employees do that you want others to emulate.

    1. Ruffingit

      Totally agreed. Celebrating all wins is awesome. As a society in general, we focus a lot on the negative. Let some joy in.

    2. Anonymous

      This is a great one. We look a lot at well it’s just our job to do X so when we do X we never pause to go, hey look at how awesome X is! Which means all we ever see are problems. And if we were robots that would be totally ok. But unfortunately we aren’t yet so we still need some accolades and encouragement when we succeed.

    3. Cath@VWXYNot?

      My team’s weekly meeting has a standing “celebrations of success” item on the agenda – for successful grant applications and manuscript submissions, that kind of thing. Every announcement gets a little round of applause. I’ve loved it since the first time I witnessed it – and I have a success to announce at tomorrow’s meeting, yay!

      1. TeaBQ

        That is an awesome idea. I’m going to ponder how to incorporate it when working with my direct reports.

  5. Ruffingit

    This is a hard one to describe, but it’s something a manager I had used to do and it was really annoying. She was “fake nice” for lack of a better term. I went to another country for a vacation and when I got back, she said “Oh, we’ll have to go to lunch and you can tell me all about the trip!” And I just said “Sure, that would be great” but I knew we would never do that because she said that kind of thing all the time, but then never followed through with making lunch plans or whatever. It’s like she was trying too hard to be nice. And since she was kind of a biatch in other ways, the fake nice thing was even more irritating.

    Again, hard to describe this, but hopefully someone knows what I mean.

    1. VictoriaHR

      Kind of like when you go to Christmas with extended family and everyone says, “oh we need to get together more often!” and you agree but you all know that it’ll never happen.

      1. Ruffingit

        Yes, exactly. And that wouldn’t have been such a big thing with this manager if she wasn’t also just generally fake in other ways. She would compliment people, but then treat people like crap and the way she complimented them, it always sounded so fake. It’s super hard to describe this, but you just know when someone is being sincere and when they’re not and when you couple it with other general behavior that is rather crappy, it all just comes off as totally insincere. And I wouldn’t have cared about the lunch invite thing, except that she did that all the time. She said it to me at least five times (oh let’s go to lunch and talk about your latest vacation/etc) and then she never followed through so after awhile, it was like “Seriously, stop saying that, you don’t intend to do it so no need to act like you care.”

        1. Sascha

          I understand completely, my current manager is like this. He always puts on this very polite front, but then he gets easily irritated with others and really lets it show through. He also makes backhanded compliments and will send nasty emails. And oddly enough, he’s also an over-praiser. He rarely gives negative feedback, and when he does, it’s very ambiguous and sugar-coated, unless you’ve pissed him off, in which case he’ll lash out. I would so much rather have sporadic praise and solid, critical feedback than pats on the head every day and the fear of seeing his unpredictable bad side.

        2. Not So NewReader

          That’s it right there she is insincere. Okay, she’s two-faced.

          My father gave me a tidbit that I hold on to. I had an upper boss that I actually liked. She was soooo stretched with her work load, that was easy to see.
          Sometimes she would say “SO Good to see YOU” or something similar to a visitor. It sounded fake, insincere.
          I said to my father “I don’t know what to make of this, a likable person sounding so fake.” My father pointed out that she had enough of her wits about her to know she had to say something nice/engaging/whatever. So every time I heard that questionable sincerity I thought “she has a ton on her mind but on some level she realizes that she should remember to say something warm/kind in this particular situation.”
          Then I went on to find people that were sounding insincere but they were not likeable, rather they were backstabbers and users. They would throw out a few kind phrases once in a while like dog biscuits just to keep people hoping for a good personality to eventually bubble to the surface. The problem that comes in when this personality becomes a boss is that they cannot sustain relationships over time. They have to keep finding new suckers… I mean, new people. This is because people catch on and then move on. This does not work out well- in personal relationships nor professional relationships for anyone who does this. The ability to keep long term relationships is an important skill to have.

    2. some1

      I had two bosses like this! Both were female and first-time supervisors. It’s like, of course I’m going to be friendly but don’t pretend you want to be my friend.

    3. Clever Name

      I know what you mean. As someone who takes everything literally and has difficulty reading between the lines, I really struggle to interact with people like this. I start to question everything they say, or worse, have no idea they don’t actually want to go to lunch (or whatever).

      1. Ruffingit

        I can imagine it would be horribly difficult to interact with someone like this if you took everything literally. For me, I had worked with this person for many years off and on so I knew what she was like and I never took her lunch “invites” with any seriousness. It just got old after awhile when she would say things like that with no intent to follow through. I just wanted her to stop saying it.

      2. Not So NewReader

        A rule of thumb I hang on to is the way people talk about others to me, is probably the way they talk about me to others.

        Of course, this does not work with every single person. So I use look for patterns. There are some people that I cringe because I know the conversation will be a bunch of negative remarks about other people. Ugh. Give it a rest.

  6. Sooz

    This might be snark but I hope my manager’s reaolution is to not be my manager anymore and get re-assigned to a non-management position like she did before!

    1. Ruffingit

      Doesn’t sound snarky to me, sounds like you’ve got a manager who stinks. A lot of us can relate.

  7. inkstainedpages

    Not New Year’s resolutions, but my list of goals for my next review period includes delegating more. I am a control-freak and know I need to work on delegating!

    After reading this, I will add a New Year’s resolution of providing more feedback. I am a new, very young manager with a quiet personality, so this will be quite the goal, but I know I need to improve on this. Even just adding weekly 1:1 meetings with staff members will help (we don’t currently do this).

    As always, thanks for all you do, Alison!

    1. Sascha

      I’d like to add, make sure it’s solid, concrete feedback. As I commented above, my manager gives a lot of positive feedback, but he gives too much, and it doesn’t really have substance (“Doing great!” is not substantial, whereas “The way you handled that client was really good because of X” is). He does it so often it doesn’t really have meaning anymore. But when my director, who rarely compliments, give me a good, solid piece of positive feedback, it just makes my whole week. Same goes for negative feedback. And kudos to you for wanting to do this. :)

    2. Graciosa

      Make sure you notice the good things first – as managers, we have so much else to think about that it can be easy to overlook areas that are not problems. If you need a place to start, make it a part of your to do list every day that you identify a specific item of good, positive feedback for an employee. An honest storehouse of good feedback makes the conversations about problem areas much easier.

      Also think about ways to give feedback – sometimes it’s verbal, but even a one line email can work as well. Some people like it when you mention their accomplishments in a staff meeting or in front of an audience, while others are embarrassed, so think about the mechanism.

      I know a non-manager who made up his own awards (just printed on the computer at work) and gave them out to people who helped him. This was amazingly effective, and they were quite sought after. It’s a good reminder that people really do want to hear that they’re doing well.

  8. Vicki

    Here’s one:

    If something happened once, it doesn’t go on the annual performance review. Resolve the issue at the time and move on.

    Obviously, if something happens over and over and doesn’t get resolved, that should go into the review, but don’t save niggling nothings just so they can be dragged back out at annual review time to give you a “needs improvement” section.

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