Winning business is so distractingly sexy that we keep making the same mistake over and over: we prioritize business development over fostering good managers.
I know “growth” is the word to emblazon across the sky but without good managers a healthy culture and retention are simply not possible.
When I first became a manager, I made every mistake in the book.
I felt I needed to know everything. If I didn’t believe I was an adult, what did I have to do so that others would believe it? I was more focused on being impressive than I was on listening.
I gave more work to employees who were already good. This meant that those who were not as good felt left out, but also could not grow. If good people attract most of the work, they also get most of the practice. Given the chance, others could become good too.
I didn’t adapt my style to the needs of people who reported to me. An excellent employee would require a higher level of my involvement if their task or responsibility was new to them or, conversely, would need me to leave them alone if we were in the middle of something they had done many times before.
I felt betrayed when people left. Leaving a job does not constitute a lack of loyalty. Unrelated to the fact you can make great friends at work, employment is not a relationship: it’s a transaction. People move on because it’s integral to their development and their life.
I felt like the happiness of people who reported into me was my responsibility.This is a classic display of poor boundaries. People are responsible for their own happiness, just like they are responsible for their own work-life balance.
I was bad at delegating, convinced that for something to get done right it needed to be done by me. Or, if I delegated something and didn’t like the results, I was the one who had to “fix” it.
I made the company a priority over the person. People are more important than companies. Negotiate in favor of your team – their salary, their hours, their vacation time – not in favor of your company. When we say “people first” or “people matter the most” you can’t then nickel and dime them on their promotion.
I wanted everyone to be the same. To arrive at the same time, work hard, stay late, be committed, be excited. People are humans with complex lives and need different things. These differences are what make companies truly creative.
We can’t demand that everyone be the same and then wonder why we are not fostering a culture of innovation.
This question originally appeared on Quora: What are some of the biggest mistakes you made when you first started managing people?
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