Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Opinion isn’t one-sided! In response to my recent article on the 11 behaviors most disliked by IT leaders, here are the 12 behaviors most disliked by IT workers of their managers/leaders. This list was created from surveying some of the IT professionals I know and connect with from a number of countries and industries (56 in fact).
If you agree or disagree with any of these points, then let us know your thoughts by adding your comment.
- Inconsistency – professionals felt that leaders behaved inconsistently to values or policy depending on the person or situation they were dealing with. This created a lack of trust in the leader and reduced morale. Inconsistency can stem from the detail of a situation being recalled differently by different people, so it’s always worth it to restate what was discussed and agreed in clear terms
- Uncertainty– many respondents regarded their leaders as inadequate in creating an environment of certainty. Of course, nothing in business is certain, but many professionals described how they felt kept in the dark in some important issues, e.g. future of the organization and severance. I guess leadership is a lonely place sometimes when one has information that one can’t share, but I think this needs to be balanced with some element of certainty. This is a fine line leaders tread, but most importantly, leaders need to sample the mood of their followers to sense how uncertain the working environment is and act accordingly. Otherwise, it fuels fear and the behaviors most disliked by leaders follows…
- Poor feedback – particularly felt during performance reviews, a number of respondents commented that their manager would provide feedback on behavior and performance, but not be specific with examples, so the contextualizing the feedback was difficult. Managers need to prepare when giving feedback and provide examples so that subordinates can learn from the experience. Many organizations don’t use 360degree feedback, which is an excellent tool for managing the feedback process, as long as it is used correctly and consistently (otherwise it ain’t worth crap!)
- Public punishment– this one is a no-brainer to understand. Folks hate being dressed-down in public. My opinion is that this behavior is unjustified 99% of the time, but there are occasions when making an example of someone for particularly bad behavior is more effective than taking a formal performance management route
- Plain ignorance – several of the respondents described situations where their manager just ignored them, flatly. I don’t think this can be excused, no matter what the situation is! I think for those ‘managers’, it’s an aspiration rather than a job title
- Alignment of objectives – perhaps not a behavior as such, but this does create disliked behaviors. Many professionals in a roundabout way described this as a big issue, mostly by commenting that they were told to do different things by different managers. This smacks of misalignment of objectives between peer-managers, and is rooted in poor management in senior management
- Broken promises – this was a stinker. Almost all respondents shared an experience where a leader has not lived up to promises, such as a bonus, reward, promotion, etc. The breaking of the psychological contract is a massive No-No, as it is not just plain bad sport, but it can wreck trust and credibility a manager builds up with their employee. Of course, sometimes promises are broken by leaders who started out with the very best intentions, so leaders must be skilful in how they make promises and create incentives – their word is their bond
- Under-resourcing– this is also a no-brainer, but long-term denial of resourcing in a team can result in burnt-out workers and this can end in crisis. I think the worst of this is that it disables a team from reacting to any unplanned work or emergencies, which always happen in even the most organized of environments
- Over-commitment– allied to under-resourcing, over half of professionals said that their managers over-committed their team unnecessarily, either to impress or out of naivety (according to their perception). The only result in the long-term of over-commitment, is under-delivery
- Over-use of Urgency – out of the 56 respondents, only 4 did NOT claim this as a problem. Many different situations were described but they all boiled down to managers crying emergency and urgency on a piece of work, only for it to end up in the proverbial in-tray for days. OK, creating a sense of urgency is a great way to motivate workers, but persistence of this damages trust and could end up in a serious situation of crying wolf!
- Scapegoating – maybe not surprising that this is on the list, I probably don’t need to add anything
- Latency – delays in decision making can create a lot of stress in professionals. Latency is often perceived as sitting on issues. Of course a manager often has to go up several layers in an organization to get a decision that they are not authorized to make on their own, but managers should keep their subordinates up to speed on where a decision is in the process