I was in an office environment for many years and worked hard to be a good manager – and learn how to be a better one. Now I have my own business, and I’m at home every day, so I don’t have anyone to manage.
It was hard at first, but I believed keeping my skills well-honed was important, so I appointed the dog Chief Barketing Officer.
A day in the life of a lousy manager
Giving the dog a job gave me someone to manage, and a typical day went something like this:
After having coffee in the morning, I’d go into my home office (once known before he went to college as my son’s room) and start my day. I’d draw up a list of anything the dog had done the day before that didn’t please me (eating the Munchkins I left on the counter, for instance). Then I’d call her into my office and call her a bad dog.
I’d give her vague directions that I was pretty sure she’d be incapable of completing, given that she has no thumbs, but hey, that’s not my problem. After all, I have things to do because I. Am. Very. Busy. And much too important to explain myself to her, so I’d tell her to figure it out and send her on her way.
Once she’d left, I’d grind my teeth because I hadn’t come up with a good blog idea yet. I’d complain out loud that things aren’t going as well as they could. After all, the blog’s not going to write itself, and for the love of god, can someone other than me come up with some good ideas for once?
When the dog presented an idea – or as she quaintly puts it – “barks” – I’d throw her out of my office and shut the door, leaving her to Facebook for the rest of the day or whatever she does when I’m not looking.
Give and take (but mostly take)
Around lunchtime, I’d toss the dog a piece of bread crust so she’d think she’s not a total waste of space, and I’d hope it would be motivation enough to keep her from trying to get out the front door when the Amazon delivery guy comes.
Later, I’d send her a nasty email in ALL CAPS like some electronic Harry Potter howler, in which I berated her for her general lack of competence. If she whined, I’d point out that the door’s right there. If she can’t do the job, there are plenty of other dogs in kennels all over the country who could. That, of course, is not true; dogs don’t have thumbs, remember? Still, it made me feel important, and really, isn’t that what being a boss is all about?
I’d also tell her if she doesn’t start doing better – although I’d be purposely vague about what “better” is in case she should accomplish it and think she’s good at her job – she’ll be back at the pound. I ‘dtell her to go back to her bed, think about whether she truly wants to work here and tell me in the morning if she’s ready to shape up or ship out.
Then the cat and I will laugh about her over drinks at the local watering hole after work. Don’t even get me started on cats: Worst. Employees. Ever.
Let’s talk about bad management
Of course, anyone who even remotely cares about being a good manager knows this is an example of bad management – and bad dog ownership. I would never treat my dog – or an employee – like that. Yet there are people out there who still think this is the way to manage employees (and dogs).
Let’s face it: Almost anyone – and I think statistics will bear me out – can be a manager. They don’t have to be good at it. People routinely are made managers because their managers don’t know what else to do with them. For instance, they may have been at a company for a long time, and someone thinks they should be promoted to something, even if they’re not good at anything.
And that’s a great plan if you want to demoralize the rest of your employees, create a toxic work environment and sacrifice any possible productivity.
If you don’t care about bad managers creating a work environment that even pay and benefits can’t solve, then you should be concerned: Bad managers affect your bottom line – and not in a good way.
It takes as much thought and effort to be a good manager at it as it does thoughtlessness to be a bad one. I’ve worked with a few bad managers; believe me, they put in a lot of effort to suck at managing as severely as they do.
What do bad managers do?
Stop me if you’ve experienced a few of these:
- Bad managers always look for someone to blame (other than themselves)
- Bad managers tell employees they can replace them
- Bad managers don’t listen to suggestions
- Bad managers take credit for other’s work
- Bad managers threaten, bully, and belittle
- Bad managers provide vague directions, so they have little accountability
- Bad managers will always tell you when you do something wrong but not when you do something right. (I worked at a company where I was told, “If they don’t say anything, then you’re doing ok.” True story.)
- Bad managers don’t care about work/life balance
- Bad managers are too busy to talk to you – about anything
- Bad managers don’t promote good people.
What do good managers do?
Since I’m a digital marketer, it occurred to me that managers can take some lessons from good social media marketing practices when dealing with employees.
After all, we use social media to attract customers and create a positive brand; why wouldn’t we use the same strategies to deal with our employees and create a positive working environment?
Conveying a positive brand starts from the ground up. Or the top down. So when there is good leadership, everyone feels different. Here are a few social media takeaways managers should consider:
Listening costs nothing but your time. With social media, it’s essential to listen to what people say to ensure we provide what they want and need. In the same way, when an employee comes to you, listen. We’re all busy, but almost no one has NO time to stop for a few minutes. If you can’t listen right then, provide an alternative meeting time.
If an employee has an idea they think might help the company, remember: at least they have the good of the company in mind. Don’t ridicule the idea even if it’s so incredibly ridiculous you nearly choke on your coffee.
Engagement in social media is critical. People who like your page but never engage are not likely the people who will buy your product or be passionate about your brand. The significant prospects comment, share, and react. The best workers are engaged workers. So, encourage your employees to speak up.
Social media has given the power to everyone, young and old, to say what they think in a large forum. Yes, some people get carried away with that (I’m looking at you, Mr. Troll), but people feel now, more than ever, that they have a voice. With social media, answering people who engage with you is a good practice. Give your employees a voice. Allow them to speak out constructively so they feel heard. Let them feel comfortable coming to you with a problem – and for heaven’s sake, don’t get angry – even if they tell you the problem is you.
Social media gives people a platform that’s easy to use. Give your employees the tools – and permission – to do what’s needed. Do what you can to lessen or remove friction from their tasks so they can be more productive, even if it costs money: In the long run, it’s cheaper to buy a new laptop than to have an employee take twice as long to complete a project because of computer issues.
When someone follows your page or provides a positive review, you should thank them. It doesn’t cost anything but shows your followers you’re listening. Give employees something – even if it’s just heartfelt praise – when they do good work. It’s true talk IS cheap. Sometimes a little perk can mean a lot to an employee – and it costs you nothing.
If you employ social media marketing best practices when you deal with employees, your employees will feel good about your company; when they feel good about where they work, they’ll be better engaged. When engaged, they will be happier and are far less likely to quit. After all, it costs less to keep a good employee happy than to train a new one who might not be as good.
So, if you’re a company focused on an outstanding experience and excellent customer service, why not offer your employees the same?