The 20th and 21st centuries have seen the radical transformation of work. In the United States, a predominately agricultural society of the 19th C transformed into the industrial complex of the 20th, and now into the services and technology dominated labor market today. At each turn, both employers and employees needed to transform their understanding of the labor markets. These radical shifts also demanded a better understanding of the employer/employee relationship.
Many employees have witnessed managers make crucial mistakes in dealing with their colleagues. These errors greatly contributed to reduced morale in the company/institution, which inevitably led to diminished productivity and frequent employee turnover. Any manager worth his or her salt would want to take active steps to avoid such business management folly. What follows are three central tenets managers should avoid like the plague.
One huge mistake is for managers to promote employees with whom they have favorable personal relationships. It is human nature to want to reward those who are friends, but this managerial decision has a deleterious effect on those employees who work hard but do not spend nearly as much time investing in personal relationships with their immediate supervisors. I worked for one institution that routinely promoted those who served the cause rather than be the best possible choice for that position. As always, treating your employees as objectively as possible is not an easy task considering the messiness of human relationships, however, in a well-oiled business or institution, managers who promote competent individuals will inspire others and above all, keep the entity running smoothly. Hiring and promoting based on personal tastes can lead to all sorts of problems (some of which are banned by federal law). It also will taint a manager’s reputation with the odor of unfairness.
Treating employees unfairly is the second biggest mistake managers make in dealing with their human resources. Employees are very observant and watch their managers in their relationships with other colleagues. If a manager actively treats everyone in the same manner and evaluates all employees similarly, then there are rare accusations or perceptions of unfairness. But as soon as a manager decides, for whatever reason, to treat one of his/her employees differently than another, then the fairness credibility shatters. This engenders suspicion, jealousy, and can force very good employees to reconsider their employment options. This inevitably leads to the third biggest error and consequence.
By lacking fairness in everyday dealings, managers fail to treat their employees as prized resources. As a manager, you have two crucial responsibilities: for your company’s customers/clients/constituents, and to your employees. Failure to treat either category with anything less than the utmost respect and reverence will not propel your managerial goals to the highest possible summit. Unfortunately, I have not seen employees being placed on a pedestal in any meaningful way. Yes, there has always been the acknowledgment of personal accolades, but that must be expanded to the entire employee base. For not every employee will perform at the same level, but if every employee feels as if he/she is highly valued by management, then that same employee will give his/her all to their work. The ultimate consequence of not treating your entire staff with reverence will contribute to the natural tendency to seek greener pastures. Some managers treat this odious element as part and parcel of the nature employment. People are hired, some are fired, some leave on their own volition. But these same managers know that it costs an institution a great deal to hire a new employee. The process is time-consuming, includes an evaluation time period, time for the employee to become acclimated, etc. Having high employee turnover is a symptom of not having the proper employee environment.
Managers of employees do not have it easy. Employees are individuals with different gifts and personalities. The key, of course, is to figure out the strengths of every single employee and cultivate those abilities in a fair and productive environment. If managers face difficulties in running their businesses/institutions, then they should avoid promotions based on personal relationships, treating employees unfairly, and not valuing their workers. Avoiding these pitfalls of management will yield a stronger business, happier employees, and increased success.