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Dave Conrad: Employees watch their managers

December 21, 2018

Dear Dave: I work with some good managers who try hard to manage their employees by setting good examples. However, like probably every organization, there are also managers that set bad examples and do things that are against company rules, or are just bad leadership practices.

I believe that managers are always being watched by their employees and they need to be careful about what they do. What are your thoughts? — T

Dear T: You are 100 percent correct when you state that employees are always watching their managers to see how they make decisions, solve problems and treat them and others who are important to the company. Simply, if a manager does questionable things that are against company rules and policies, or if they treat people poorly and with no regard for their rights and wellbeing, their employees see this and frighteningly may choose to perform in the same ways.

To be sure, there are many employees who see how badly their managers are performing, but do not go down the same path. They see the wrong in what their managers do and they make conscious decisions to never manage the same way. They see the violations for what they are, learn that the practices are wrong and choose to be better leaders if they become managers.

Also, my hat is off to those managers that try to set good examples and try their best to keep everything right and fair. They have chosen to be ethical leaders and have decided to always treat their employees well and fairly — they take care of business in ways that make their employees feel good about and respect their leadership.

I think back to the bad managers I have had over the years and I still cringe. Their horrible treatment of their staff, the ways they always tried to “con” our customers, and the sloppy ways they ran their area of responsibility were daily practices. They could not even see the wrongs they were committing and the devastating damage they did to their employees who just wanted to do their jobs, learn and be fairly rewarded. The very best and most productive days for the staff were those when the managers were gone somewhere.

Take the lead of good leadership

I think the best thing you can do is to be the best leader that you can be every day and all throughout the day. This is not easy, because of the negative forces around you and the influence they exert. Bad managers feel the most comfortable and reinforced about how they behave, when all of the managers around them are behaving in the same ways. They are threatened by those managers that try so hard to practice good leadership and set good examples for their staff. I guess, as the saying goes, “misery loves company.”

If you behave in the right ways and if you treat your employees with respect, trust and dignity, there is a chance you will be approached by lousy managers and directly asked, “what are you doing? You are making us look bad.” Well, they are bad. You can proudly tell them what your motives are all about and inform them that you believe there are right and wrong ways to lead — you are following what you have determined to be the right ways.

I can just hear it – the poor managers may boot you out of their “mismanagement club” and tell you that you are making it difficult for them to do their work. They may even tell you that you are ruining the culture of the company. Well, if that is the culture of the company, it should be ruined. Again, you want to hold your head up high, do what you believe is right, and go home and sleep well at night. What a great way to lead!

One additional thing you want to do is to review your employees’ performance in honest and specific ways. You must store up accurate information and observations so when you discuss performance with your staff (maybe every day), it is based on the truth versus “what it feels like they did.” I would bet that the poorly performing managers will come to realize that you are setting the example and they are not. Practicing management in devious and threatening ways will have a “short shelf life” if the prevailing culture is one of care, respect, honesty and trust. The right culture will make the poor managers stick out like sore thumbs and be seen as the bad leaders that they are.

In summary, the right things are always the right things when good managers take care of the business and their people in positive, encouraging and motivating ways. Maybe some will disagree with me, but I believe that most, if not all, managers start out their management positions with an eye toward doing what is right and fair. They slowly but surely will slip into bad practices when the managers around them are constantly setting bad examples. I admire those that start out strong and fair and only strive to learn better ways to lead their staff and conduct business in aboveboard and honorable ways.

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