A Manager’s Dilemma – The Ultimate Hypocrisy

Here is an issue that I feel is the apex of hypocrisy. “People Don’t Leave Bad Jobs, They Leave Bad Bosses”

Why do I hate it? One possible reason is that people tend to focus on negative outcomes more than positive outcomes, which means that when things go wrong, there is a greater tendency to assign blame to someone rather than give credit to someone when things go well.

Managers are often seen as responsible for their team’s performance, and when employees fail, it can be seen as a reflection of poor management or leadership. On the other hand, when employees succeed, it is often attributed to their individual skills and abilities rather than the guidance or support their manager provides.

You can’t both blame the manager for subpar performance but not acknowledge the manager’s influence when a team member is successful.

I fall into the trap myself sometimes. If my hourly team struggles, it is easy to assign the struggles to their supervisors – my direct reports. Yet, when there is a “rockstar” on the shift, I too quickly can respond with praise for their initiative and totally skip the fact that the most probable cause is an empowering leader that has recognized their talent and rightly released them to be successful.

The role of a manager is to provide direction, support, and resources to their team to enable them to achieve their goals. As such, it could be argued that managers are expected to ensure that their team members succeed, and that failure reflects a lack of effective management or leadership. However, success/failure may be a natural outcome of the skills and abilities, or lack thereof, of the employees, rather than the efforts of the manager.

Effective managers provide guidance, support, and resources that enable their team members to perform at their best and achieve their goals. Therefore, it is important to recognize the contributions of managers when their team members succeed and to avoid assigning blame when things don’t go as planned.

So how can we avoid perpetuating the hypocrisy?

A leader can ensure that they give both credit for low performance and credit for high performance appropriately by establishing clear performance expectations and providing regular feedback and recognition to their team members. Here are some strategies a leader could use:

  1. Establish clear expectations: A leader should set clear performance expectations for their team members, including specific goals and metrics for success. This can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and has a shared understanding of what success looks like.
  2. Provide regular feedback: A leader should provide regular feedback to their team members about their performance. This can include constructive criticism when things don’t go well, but also positive feedback and recognition when things are going well. By providing regular feedback, a leader can help their team members understand where they need to improve and what they are doing well.
  3. Recognize individual and team achievements: A leader should recognize both individual and team achievements, and give credit where credit is due. This can include public recognition in team meetings or through other communication channels, such as a company newsletter or social media. By recognizing individual and team achievements, a leader can build morale and motivation, and encourage their team members to continue striving for excellence.
  4. Take responsibility for failures: A leader should take responsibility for failures that occur under their watch, and work to identify the root cause of the failure and develop a plan to address it. This can help build trust and credibility with team members, and demonstrate that the leader is willing to take accountability for their actions and decisions.

By implementing these strategies, a leader can ensure that they give credit for both outcomes of their direct reports for how they lead their teams. This can help create a culture of accountability and continuous improvement, where everyone is focused on achieving shared goals and delivering exceptional results.

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