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5 Management Practices That Kill Employee Productivity

5 Management Practices That Kill Employee Productivity

    Effective leaders set their teams up for success. This requires that they avoid any management practices that could potentially kill employee productivity. Inept leadership styles come in all flavors, from the disorganized or forgetful boss to the extreme micromanager. Here are five practices that are guaranteed to sink your workers’ efficiency — and the alternatives to supercharge it.

    1. Fearmongering

    Fear is a powerful motivator, but managers who regularly threaten job security and employees’ livelihood run the risk of paralyzing their team. Employees who are afraid to lose their job may bow under pressure, waste company time looking for jobs “just in case” or gossip with coworkers — all activities that kill morale and decrease productivity.

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    Instead, cultivate a culture centered on trust, respect and engagement. Such a work environment encourages growth, learning from one’s mistakes and effective communication. Engaged workers who aren’t afraid of being fired can relax and focus on doing their best work. Similarly, disengaged workers can destroy team morale from within.

    2. Calling employees out in public

    Managers should praise publicly and counsel privately. Criticizing a team member in front of his peers is embarrassing for him; it also has an awkward, demotivating effect on his coworkers, who may now be fearful to make a mistake.

    If you need to counsel an employee, do so in a way that won’t attract attention or distract others. This is especially important in offices with glass-walled meeting rooms or open floor plans, where it’s easy for others to see and hear sensitive meetings.

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    When I worked in an open-plan office, I’d initiate all one-on-one “development” meetings with an instant message or a short email that explained why I wanted to speak with the team member. Then I’d approach the employee and say something like, “Hey, let’s go take a walk. Will you be free in 10 minutes?” We’d then head to a nearby park, where we could speak freely. Because the company had cultivated a culture of trust, feedback and engagement (see No. 1), employees learned to look forward to these “walks” as opportunities to improve.

    3. Avoiding project ownership

    Managers who hold the strings in every regard aren’t leaders — they’re tyrants. Employees who are mere pawns can quickly become disengaged; they have little incentive to go above and beyond in any particular task.

    Employees who have ownership over a project are emotionally vested in its success. That small measure of recognition builds accountability. An employee who is the point person for a project may go above and beyond to coordinate his teammates, meet project deadlines and communicate their progress with you.

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    4. Ignoring top performers

    What practices separate your peak performers from your average performers? Ineffective leaders micromanage top performers or ignore their prowess altogether, essentially getting in their way or demotivating them.

    Good managers recognize and acknowledge high-performance workers. Give these team members responsibilities that best leverage their skills. Meet with these individuals and ask what tools they need to do their very best work. Try to understand their work processes and how they may differ from the rest of your team.

    5. Running ineffective meetings

    Managers love meetings because it enables them to catch up on projects and disseminate instructions to key team members all at once. Many employees hate meetings because they’re poorly managed, irrelevant to their work responsibilities or held at a time of day that isn’t conducive to a long attention span. This disconnect between managers’ needs to stay “in the loop” and employees’ distaste for meetings can add up to energy lulls and decreased productivity.

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    Try these tips to running effective meetings to alleviate productivity loss in your office.

    Conclusion

    In an office setting primed for productivity, every leader would intuitively know how to manage their teams to peak efficiency. By avoiding these management practices, managers will be five steps closer to that optimal environment.

    (Photo credit: Businessman Office via Shutterstock)

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    Published on November 12, 2020

    5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

    5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

    What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

    Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

    Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

    While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

    Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

    1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

    When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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    Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

    In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

    • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
    • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
    • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

    While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

    2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

    Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

    Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

    Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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    However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

    3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

    Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

    But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

    It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

    4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

    Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

    Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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    5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

    Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

    For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

    How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

    The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

    If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

    Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

    It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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    Final Thoughts

    If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

    If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

    It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

    More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

    Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

    Reference

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