This week, we start our 7 Deadly Sins series, where we cover top mistakes, blunders and snafus of the office, from fashion to communication to management. Follow our series to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes, and find ways to correct yourself if you have.
The role of manager is a professional accomplishment that many aspire to achieve. Some take years to reach this milestone while others move up the ranks fairly quickly. Regardless of how long it takes you to get there, being in management is a huge responsibility. Managers aren’t only responsible for leading staff, but for ensuring the best product or service. Erika Zeigler, senior producer at Music Choice, manages a diverse staff of engineers, producers, writers, and crew members for this national digital music entity. Having been with the company for 8 years, Zeigler began as an intern and worked her way up to the position where she now leads the entire production department. As one who has been on both sides of the spectrum— employee and manager—Ziegler shares her expertise and experience on the biggest mistakes managers make and how to avoid or correct them.
GLUTTONY: Thou shall not have your power cake and eat it too. It’s never a good idea to cross the line between friendships and professional relationships. Many managers fall prey to this sin, particularly when they have moved up the ranks and used to be peers with people that they now manage. You don’t have to be enemies with your staff, but you can’t let friendship get in the way of getting the job done. “It becomes difficult to have those tough conversations with someone you consider to be your friend,” Zeigler says.
In the office, be sure to reiterate to friends that you won’t be mixing business with personal. “You have to find a good balance in order to get the job done and maintain a level of respect for each person’s position,” Zeigler adds.
GREED: Thou shall not overindulge in the workload. It’s not a good idea to be involved in every aspect of your staff’s jobs. You must trust that they can do what they were hired to do, give them a chance to do it and motivate them to do it well. Make sure you have the right people on your team comprised of capable staff you can trust. Zeigler suggests mentoring rather than micromanage. This pushes people to grow, she adds.
PRIDE: Thou shall not be a know-it-all when it comes to strategies. It’s not a good strategy to be closed to your staff’s opinions or ideas because you think you know it all. “Just because you’ve been at a company a long time doesn’t mean you know everything about being a manager,” Zeigler says. She also adds that because managers can’t know and do everything, it’s important for managers to learn how to delegate.
WRATH: Thou shall not participate in causing discourse, jealousy and/or negativity among subordinates. The manager who seeks to taint the mindset of their staff and the culture of their work environment will find themselves in quite a mess that could mean a big hit to productivity—and ultimately profit. Sharing negative information about the company or other staff is never a good idea. Zeigler suggests managers allow people to formulate their own opinions of their peers, and keep correspondence strictly professional and ethical. “The last thing you want is for your team’s morale to be down because of something you said,” Zeigler adds.
LUST: Thou shall strongly desire and embrace change, advancement and progress. A great manager must adapt with the times and not be resistant to embracing anything new—whether it is technology, processes, or even staff. Be open to the benefits of newness. There’s nothing worse than managers who say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ “So what,” Zeigler says. “It’s a new day!” It’s extremely important to remain current if you plan to become an effective manager, otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for early — unwanted—retirement.
SLOTH: Thou shall not be lazy, weak and passive in leadership. It’s never a good look when a manager is weak and easily influenced. The pushover doesn’t take a stand and is often pushed around by their staff. This becomes especially challenging when faced with a tough decision to discipline or reprimand a team member. You can’t lead people that you’re afraid of and you must keep the company’s goals in focus at all times. “If someone’s not right for that position, it is what it is. They just have to go,” Zeigler says.
ENVY: Thou shall be authentically powerful in leadership, not desiring to be anyone else. A bad manager is incapable of establishing themselves as a leader or director. Being a follower rather than an innovator is not the mark of a good manager because it shows a lack of ability to establish their brand and advance that of the company. The best way to lead with authority is to be yourself. You have to know who you are before trying to lead someone else. It’s important that your staff feels comfortable with your leadership and decision-making skills.