Yes, you read that correctly! Today we’re looking at three management approaches we should all do our best to avoid.
It’s an exceptionally challenging time for leaders in the workplace. It’s difficult to lead when we’re all venturing into the unknown. You’re dealing with the stress of day-to-day operations while adhering to Public Health requirements and moving things forward when the world is essentially stalled in many ways. It likely feels chaotic and you may be questioning some of the decisions you’re making (aren’t we all?). While the Workplace Wellness Weekly normally takes a “glass half-full” approach I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the “what NOT to do” list.
1. Making Assumptions
In these times of uncertainty clear communication is more vital than ever. Research tells us that in “normal times” most adults have to hear than same information seven times – SEVEN TIMES! – before they really internalize it. Assuming your team members can read your mind, that everyone’s on the same page or that a problem doesn’t exist unless someone brings it to you are all recipes for disaster. Communicating expectations clearly and consistently will bring a sense of comfort and stability to your team in addition to the helping everyone be their most productive.
We all respond differently to stress. In this period of constant change and uncertainty you may have found yourself inclined to monitor your team more closely than you normally do. This is a natural and common response to unpredictable circumstances: we sense a loss of control so we latch on tightly to whatever we can control. Of course you want to make sure your team members feel well supported and connected… but monitoring and giving feedback on every move they make will not likely be well received. Your team might interpret this as an indication that you don’t trust them to fulfill their duties. Instead, praise jobs well-done, emphasize that you’re happy to support folks in whatever way they might need you and give clear, specific direction for how they should reach out.
3. Talking Out Both Sides of Your Mouth
Leaders must practice what they preach when it comes to work-life balance. What does it communicate to my team if I talk about how we all need to be conscious of our mental health and prioritize de-stressing outside the work environment… but I don’t do these things myself? The “Do as I say, not as I do” approach to leadership is totally ineffective, plain and simple. Your team will take your behaviour to heart over the words you speak. Over time, saying things that don’t align with what you’re modeling might impact workplace culture, too. Your teammates may end up feeling like they have to read between the lines with whatever you’re saying. No one wants to develop a reputation as leader who’s difficult to understand or hypocritical.
Leading a team (effectively) is rarely easy. Leading a team during a global pandemic means we sometimes feel like we’re making it up as we go along, which can feel unsettling. Take each day as it comes. Nobody has all the answers right now. One day (hopefully in the not-too-distant future) you’ll look back on this time and pat yourself on the back for having done the things you’re doing today. Hang in there!
Thanks for reading, my friends. Wishing each of you a mentally healthy week!
Elizabeth Eldridge is a Psychological Health & Safety Consultant based in southern New Brunswick, Canada. In addition to keynote speaking and corporate training on workplace mental health she is the owner/operator of Arpeggio Health Services, Atlantic Canada’s largest provider of public mental health trainings. Learn more at elizabetheldridge.com, summitcorporatewellness.com and arpeggiohealthservices.com.