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Are You Making These Management Mistakes?

Matt Kaey November 1, 2012

What’s your management style? How well do you really know your employees/coworkers?

Have you ever really stopped to think about the psychology of your employees? Their motivations and personalities? Understanding them better will not only make you a better manager, but also help the company be stronger as a whole. We have written before about what makes our company culture unique and what type of work environment we foster to make our employees as productive as possible. Now I want to dive into our management style, what you should consider and mistakes you can’t afford to make when choosing yours.

Why it’s important:

Have you ever considered the psychology behind your management style? Whether you’re managing an in-house team or a remote team, your management style has an effect on productivity and morale. Choosing the right management style can lead to better commitment, focus, unity, creative thinking, and quick progress, and can help develop other strong managers and team leaders.

What to consider:

There are three main management styles:

  1. Transactional – Based on contingent reinforcement; everyone just does what they do to get paid. This is not a good style because there is little to no room to foster growth.
  2. Laissez Faire – This style of management is fully hands off in all aspects. While it may be good to give your employees some freedom, this style is ineffective as well due to its passivity and no directions toward a vision or purpose.
  3. Transformational – This is all about going from “I” to “We.” It’s about taking an active approach to effectively growing your team/business.

Within transformation management are the 4 “I”s to consider:

  1. Intellectual stimulation: Do you encourage innovative thinking? The key here is valuing the intellect of employees, encouraging imagination, and challenging old ways of thinking. If you’re not encouraging constant brainstorming and thinking outside the box, you’re not fostering an environment that encourages others to find the answer, creates a readiness for change in thinking, and encourages a broad range of opinions. You hired your employees because they had the intellect; now it’s your turn as a manager to keep that intellect stimulated, and your employees thirsty for more.
  2. Inspirational motivation: Do you focus on the future? A good transformational manager treats threats as opportunities, has higher expectations of employees, and is focused on a grand vision. The more you can pass your vision and big picture idea of the company direction, the more you will motivate your employees to excel to reach goals.
  3. Individualized consideration: Do you provide personalized attention? Each employee is different; I’m sure this was considered while hiring them. Therefore, you must be aware that certain employees respond differently than others, and and take that into consideration when making any big management decisions. Fostering this supportive environment is also key for communication, keeping communication two-way. This is also your chance as a manager to play on your employees’ strengths and weaknesses to provide the feedback they need to build confidence and grow in their roles.
  4. Idealized influence: Do you have charisma? As a leader, even though you’re all about the “We,” you must also still serve as a role model to your employees. You’re the one who best understands the vision of the company, and you have to project your confidence in that vision to provide your employees with a genuine sense of purpose and trust. The more you can “walk the talk” and be willing to share the limelight with all, the more you will influence your employees to join in the shared vision and goals of the company.

How to put it into action:

At Blueglass, we are constantly encouraged to think outside the box, and look for the next big thing. We understand the only constant  is change, and are always looking to the future and how we can use change to our advantage. Our managers are involved with every team, understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses in their roles, and are constantly working towards making things better. I can honestly say I understand the vision our managers have for the company and it’s future. I also know I can always approach a manager and expect open communication and support. I believe this is the main reason I was able to grow within the company so quickly and continue to grow and improve in my role every day.

Why it’s important:

Going along with individualized consideration and inspirational motivation, do you really take the time to understand what is going through an employee’s mind when they act in a certain way? How do you make sure your employees aren’t just there passing the time, working for the paycheck? The more you understand what drives them, the more you can ensure they are not only enjoying what they do, but inspiring everyone around them to love what they do as well.

What to consider:

There are five motivations to consider as a manager:

  1. Intrinsic motivation: What are your employees’ likes/dislikes? How can you make sure they are enjoying what they do and having fun?
  2. Instrumental motivation: As humans, we are all motivated, on some level, by “what’s in it for me?” So it is important to consider this when managing your employees.
  3. External self concept motivation: Although all employees are different, I can almost guarantee they all enjoy feedback, praise, and credit. Although it may not always be good, people like to know where they stand, when they do well, and how they can do better.
  4. Internal self concept motivation: This motivation considers your employees’ needs for skill development and their ability to perform for the company. This definitely comes from the need to grow within the company and industry.
  5. Internal goal motivation: How often do you think your employees ask themselves, “Why are we doing this?” It is the manager’s role to instill that strategic focus and collective cause mentality in their employees so they know the answer to this and aren’t wondering why they show up for work day after day.

How to put it into action:

At Blueglass, we like music, we like comfort, we like an open and collaborative environment. So what did our managers do? Installed speakers throughout the office, built a lounge to drink coffee and work in and let us move our desks and workspaces to best collaborate with the rest of the team. When I wonder “What’s in it for me?” I can think about the weekly Lunch ‘n’ Learns with amazing food and the chance to learn even more about the company and my coworkers. In addition, one of my favorite moments was when a manager approached me and asked, “What are your goals? What steps can I take to help you get there?” Did we specifically ask for these things? No. Do they make me love being here a little more? Yes.

Why it’s important:

When your goal is to create a work environment where your employees are constantly innovating, you must consider what personality types can work best together. Keep in mind– the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Therefore, you want to create teams that have the optimal mix to make this happen.

What to consider:

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test? No type is necessarily better than another, but it is one of the most accurate ways to understand and appreciate differences between you and others. Even if you don’t have the time to administer one for all your employees, if you are a transformational manager, you should have a pretty good idea of where your employees fall in the Myers-Briggs spectrum. The types include the following dimensions:

  1. Introversion/Extraversion: interaction vs. reflection
  2. Sensing/Intuition: how you gather information; interpretation only or add meaning to information
  3. Thinking/Feeling: how you come to conclusions
  4. Judging/Perceiving: how you deal with the world; making quick decisions or open to interpretation

For example, a person who enjoys interaction, doesn’t add too much meaning when interpreting information, uses their feelings to come to conclusions, and is open to interpretation (ESFP) is known as a “The Performer” and learn best by trying a new skill with other people. You can read more about the 16 types here.

Once you understand these types a little more, you can use the type table to ensure you are not including too many of a single type on your teams, and are playing on the strengths of each type.

How to put it into action:

Now that you have a better understanding of your employees, you can build the ultimate team. At BlueGlass, we create a brainstorming dream team by including everyone, and not just “The Mechanics” or “The Scientists.” While this may seem like there may be too many cooks in the kitchen, we find that having a diverse group brings different perspectives to the table, and is the difference between a good idea and a great idea.

Why it’s important:

As a manager, you have to trust your choice and project that confidence onto the rest of your team. Instead of wondering whether someone is right for the role after all, remember their strengths and play on them. Whether you believe leaders are born or made, I think any good manager can trust their ability to lead their employees in a way that strengthens them.

What to consider:

A great manager has the ability to empower their employees to rise to the occasion, and affirm your decision to bring them on the team. You cannot harp on the weaknesses of anyone or question your decision. You must help and give them the motivation to believe in themselves. Five ways to encourage and develop your employees:

  1. Empower people to rise to the challenge
  2. Keep them focused on a shared mission.
  3. Engage and challenge your employees
  4. Reinforce their strengths
  5. Let your employees make mistakes

The last one may seem counter-intuitive and inefficient, but this is proven to help your employees grow into leaders themselves. Just trust your instincts and trust your employees; treat everyone equally and learn from everyone. This mutual respect is the basis for empowerment. That empowerment will go a long way for you and the company.

How to put it into action:

At BlueGlass, our managers let us make mistakes. Not in a sense where they don’t care and let us do as we please, but in a sense where they trust their decision to bring us to the team and are willing to step back and let us run with things, even if it means we may fail at first. This allows us to step up in situations, and in ways we might not have thought of before, and really showcase our strengths and leadership skills. The more I see my coworkers stepping up and learning from their mistakes, the more I see their strengths and abilities to really excel in their positions. As a manager, creating an environment where your employees are not afraid to step up is crucial to the growth of the company.

Management is not about personal success, but the success created by empowering others to step up and lead. Being a transformational manager is the best way to foster a collaborative culture and motivate others to reach full potential instead of just being followers. Don’t just listen; be an active listener, and have authentic interactions with your employees. Inspire, develop, and create change through others, and watch your employees and company grow and prosper.

What do you think is most important for managers to do? Share in the comments below!

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About Author

Matt Kaey

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Yea!, I'm an entrepreneur, emarketer, web developer and information technology systems engineer with 17 years of experience. Happy to bring you Yea! and sincerely hope you enjoy it. View all posts by Matt Kaey →

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