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A Team is a Reflection of Its Leadership

Sep 9 2014
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How Managers Can Damage Employee
Performance
While an individuals behavior is always their personal responsibility, influences do
happen that can affect their performance and a teams morale. In a business
environment, any number of distractions, interruptions, or unpleasant interactions can
take place and completely shutdown an employees concentration and shift the focus
from their task. The employee cannot always directly handle many of these situations
and, often, the rest of the team will turn on them and view them as the problem.
Therefore, not only is their performance affected, additionally, their attitude,
willingness, and desire to cooperate can be damaged. Then, the team as a whole will
severely suffer.
What is the managers role in this type of scenario? The manager has both a
responsibility and an obligation to their staff to create a productive workplace
atmosphere. Ultimately, the managers contribution to reducing or preventing the team
from going bad may be an even greater skill than turning around a bad employee.
Unfortunately, there are five things managers do that can damage both an employees
productivity and cause team failure.
1. Fail to have a clear vision of excellence
The old saying states, when the blind leads the blind, both fall in the ditch. In the
absence of leadership with a clear vision of what excellence in performance truly is,
employees will make up personal standards or follow the next best thing. That usually
ends up being water cooler gossip and conjecture. Neither may be where the manager
wants them to go. It is the obligation of the leader to inspire the group to follow them to
a better or excellent outcome. Unless the leader is clear on the end destination, the team
will wander aimlessly until they all fall in the ditch. Leaders understand that self-
direction, too often, becomes self-destruction.
2. Use poorly developed communication skills
It has been reported that over 85% of the difficulties we have with other people can be
traced back to a lack of, or poor communication skills. While this is a problem for
anyone who comes in contact with another person, it is exceptionally bad for a
supervisor trying to achieve output through others. A leader must understand that people
receive and decode information in several ways. Some hear it, others must see, and still
others have to interact with it in some way before understanding occurs. Unfortunately,
most people treat others like they themselves wish to be treated. On the surface that
sounds like an equitable, if not honorable way to behave. The problem occurs when
they are different than you. Leadership means understanding how others
communicate and presenting information so understanding takes place.
3. Be a great doer, but a poor trainer and motivator
Too many people with too few leadership skills in too many companies are promoted to
a management position. Most rise in one of three ways. First, they are superstar doers;
implying those skills are transferrable to management. Second, they are a veteran
employee and understand the system well; implying that since they have seniority, they
must have skills. Third, they are related to the owner somehow; implying they
obviously have the necessary genetic make up to do it. While these may not in
themselves be bad rationale for the management track, they dont guarantee leadership
success. A leader must be a great educator and trainer. They must resist the urge
and thrills attached to doing and begin to appreciate the value of being a great
builder of champions. Angelo Dundee never had a professional boxing match. He was
never a superstar doer, but he did have the leadership skills to develop, and train many
legends of boxing including Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.
4. Inadequate ability to handle employee performance problems
Is an employee that is not performing well truly a problem or is the inability of a
manager to change the employees behavior the true issue? A leader develops a keen
awareness of the staff output and notices any variation in that output. Leadership
requires addressing performance issues quickly, before they become major obstacles
and providing assistance to the staff member to get back on track. Often managers are
excellent problem-seers, but reluctant problem handlers. A leader knows how to
turn a problem employee into a productive member of a team.
5. Inconsistent actions which lose employee or team trust
People dont follow people they dont trust, regardless of the authority level. Trust is
paramount to leadership success. The staff expects the supervisor to do what they say
they will do at all times and be the example of how things must and will be
handled. When you tell a staff member you will get them an answer and you dont, you
create mistrust. When you promise to meet or call a subordinate at a specified time and
you dont, you become untrustworthy. When you hold yourself to a lower standard of
behavior than you do your staff, you destroy the trust necessary to lead others to higher
performance. Remember, people repeat what they see more that what they hear. Be
the example they deserve.
Recognize that your influence and skills as a leader have a direct impact and influence
your team. Developing and improving your leadership skills will lead to a
corresponding improvement with your team. As the late president of the Mescalero
Apache Nation, Wendell Chino said, You cant steer the ship of your tribe, if you
cannot first steer your own ship. Every person in a leadership position would be well
served to remember this message and commit it to action.
Training to Go the Distance