Monday, April 9, 2012

6 Things Only Bad Managers Say

6 Things Only Bad Managers Say                                        
By Liz Ryan, Bloomberg Business Week

Nope, it’s not just you. These jerks are out there.We know the kinds of things good managers say: They say “attaboy” or “attagirl,” “Let me know if you run into any roadblocks, and I’ll try to get rid of them for you,” and “You’ve been killing yourself — why don’t you take off at noon on Friday?”
Bad managers don’t say these things. Helpful, encouraging and trust-based words and phrases don’t occur to them.
Lousy bosses say completely different things.

We’ve gathered together six of the most heinous, bad-manager warhorse sayings. Do any of them sound like something a manager in your company might say (or might have said this week)?

"If you don’t want this job, I’ll find someone who does"
Great leaders understand that the transaction defining the employer-employee relationship — the fact that an employer pays you in cash while you cough up your value in sweat and brainwork — is the least important part of your professional relationship.

Good managers realize that to get and keep great people, they have to move past the dollars-and-cents transaction and let people own their jobs.

Good leaders give people latitude and let them know that their contributions have value. Lousy managers, on the other hand, love to remind employees that it’s all about the transaction: “You work for me.” They never fail to remind team members that someone else would take the job if you ever got sick of it or let the lousy manager down in some way.

"I don’t pay you to think"
This is what a bad manager says when an employee offers an idea he doesn’t like.
Maybe the idea threatens the inept manager’s power.

Maybe it would require the lousy manager to expend a few brain cells or some political capital within the organization.

Either way, “I don’t pay you to think” is the mantra of people who have no business managing teams.

It screams, “Do what I tell you to do, and nothing else.” Life is way too short to spend another minute working for someone who could speak these words.

"Drop everything and DO THIS NOW!"

Any manager can have a last-minute emergency that pushes everything else out of the way. Good managers pull this move sparingly and only in real crises.

Poor managers do it every day, and they never remember the dozen equally critical (at one point in time) priorities they’ve already told you to drop everything else for. A good comeback if your manager has this habit is to answer, “Yes, of course. That’ll push [yesterday’s drop-everything project] to next Thursday — is that fine?”

"Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions."

This chestnut showed up during the era when people were beginning to think about business process and realizing that employees could often solve their day-to-day problems in the moment and on the ground, rather than having to go upstairs to get help.

That’s O.K., but too many managers have reinterpreted “Bring me solutions, not problems” as “Don’t complain — shut up and deal with it.”

The fact is, business processes and organizations are complicated today, and often the employee who spots a problem doesn’t have the information she or he needs to solve it. That’s where a manager can help, if he or she is oriented that way.

Managers who say, “Bring me solutions” are often really saying, “Stop telling me what I don’t want to hear.” Working for a person like that will shorten your lifespan.

"I have some feedback for you … and everyone here feels the same way"

Good managers give their employees feedback when it’s warranted, and they try to emphasize and reinforce the good things.

Bad managers don’t give praise, but they ladle on the criticism, and the really bad ones add an extra twist of meanness: They say, “Everyone here feels the same way.”

Pretty soon, you start to feel that you can’t trust anyone in your shop and that everyone hates you — until a co-worker mentions that your lousy manager said the same thing to her.

Poor managers need to throw in a few dozen extra “votes” with their barbs, just to keep employees off guard.

A true leader would talk about conflict or performance issues regularly in staff meetings, resolving whatever is at issue without passing along anonymous jabs.

"In these times, you’re lucky to have a job at all"

The funniest thing about a manager who would open his mouth and say, “You’re lucky to have a job at all” is that these managers never seem to think they’re lucky to be working — just everyone else.

“You’re lucky to have a job at all” in an era of high unemployment is the same as saying, “I can’t believe you manage to stay in that 90 percent of the population that is working.”
It’s a huge insult, but worse, a statement of personal failure on the manager’s part.
People who live in fear don’t tend to see the potential in themselves, or in others.

If your manager’s native mode is critical, and if she tosses around compliments like manhole covers, know that there are plenty of other employers who’d be happy to have someone like you in the