When I teach or facilitate management and leadership classes I tell my students that I have had the privilege of working for 10 different managers in my life, eight who were amazing and two whom “I learned so much from”. This is a nice way to say two of them were unable (and incapable as well) of earning anyone’s respect..…but, I did learn so much of what not to do as a manager.
See if your manager uses any of these statements that were a part of in my two manager’s regular communication, if so they are quickly depleting their respect quotient:
1. “You did what?”
Notice the tone and the wording is immediately accusational and there is the lack of applying Stephen Covey’s principle of “seek first to understand” from his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.
2. “That’s not my problem.”
If he or she is your manager, and responsible for the team’s success, then they are responsible for ensuring the problem is resolved. It does not mean you are off the hook for the problem you have identified; you are still accountable for your actions and both of you should contribute to the solution.
3. “I’m too busy now.”
One of the primary functions of a manager is to be a resource, or provide resources, to support your success. It may be true that your manager is busy at the time, if so at least he or she should take a moment to get a brief understanding of your request and put a plan in motion to address the item in the near future.
4. “It’s not my decision, this is from upper management.”
This scapegoating approach is code for “I don’t have any power and I am just doing what I am told”. Managers may not agree with all upper management decisions, but they should be held accountable to gain an understanding of why the decision was made and to provide upward feedback to address concerns. Managers own making the connection for all communications to their employees.
This is probably one of the most detrimental words for a manager to use in his or her communications. By placing the “but” in the middle of a statement, all of the previous communication will be considered invalid. The negative consequence of this approach is that the employee remembers only the “but” portion of the statement. As a quick tip, substitute the word “And” for any “But”, or but-like words (however, yet, still, nonetheless, though, or nevertheless).
6. “You again.”
Obviously you are being placed in the annoyance or pest category. No matter how bad of an employee you might be, managers own getting the most and best out of every worker. The “you again” response is disrespectful and indicates that the manager has not set clear expectations for you or resolved any items that could have been done proactively.
7. “Just do it.”
Although Nike has made billions of dollars from this slogan, this communication from your manager usually has a different connotation than the positive intent for accomplishment from the Nike slogan. Often this statement emerges from the lack of clarity from the manager of what needs to be done. To combat this disrespectful practice, you can help your manager by ensuring that he or she is providing the three elements of quantity, quality and pace in all of his/her communications. Great examples of this type of communication can be found in the book “The Leader of OZ – Revealing the 101 Marvelous Leadership Secrets for the 21st Century”.
The good news is that most disrespectful managers, often in their relentless quest for bottom-line results at any cost, may be unaware of how these seven critical statements affect the productivity and engagement of their employees. Often disrespectful managers are trainable, as an employee take on the challenge to help them get better. When I was unsuccessful with the two disrespectful managers whom “I learned so much from”, I proactively moved on and found other managers that contributed to building manager skills and to my personal brand. If you are stuck with a disrespectful manager, give it your best to change their behavior and help your colleagues who may be suffering as well….and if you are unsuccessful, moving on may be a good career strategy.
Featured photo credit: Horrible Bosses via fanpop.com