The coronavirus pandemic has pushed all of us to our breaking points, but it’s probably put a lot of things into perspective. While you might be able to attribute a recent decline in business performance to the pandemic, are you sure that’s the cause? Were you experiencing slow growth or unhappy employees before the pandemic? What if your company is being poorly managed?

Josh Rovner, author of Unbreak the System: Diagnosing and Curing the Ten Critical Flaws in Your Company, says,

“Management flaws can have a big impact on a company. These flaws [can be] the root causes of poor financial performance, low employee engagement and morale, irate or frustrated customers, goals not being accomplished, deadlines being missed and high turnover.”

Do any of these issues sound familiar? Have you looked at your leadership (people and style) as part of the problem? If you’re not sure why these things are happening, look inwards. Those are things within your control, which means with time and effort, you can remedy them.

The first place to look to uncover poor management, is your employees. Are they happy? Are they productive? Are they engaged? Or are they unproductive, resentful and quitting? If it’s the latter, keep reading.

Here are the top four ways to identify if things are going south, and why. We show you how leadership impacts every part of your business, positively or negatively, and how to fix it.

  1. Employees are leaving left and right

    High employee turnover is a sign something serious is wrong. Can you determine a pattern or isolate specific reasons why employees are leaving? Do employees from the same department or in a particular role often leave? Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help you determine the root cause of the issue.

    Poor management can give rise to these three issues that will make your employees running for the hills.

    Overworking your employees

    Do you ask your employees to work long hours for an extended period of time? Are they overextended and undercompensated? If their work-life balance is lopsided, they’ll burnout quickly. Demanding work can give way to a negative attitude towards work, leadership, and teammates. Employees’ physical and mental health could suffer, and ultimately, they become less productive team members. No employee operates in a vacuum. When one team member is struggling, it affects the people around them. In turn, that affects your bottom line.

    If you must have employees work long hours to complete a project, reward them with extra PTO or a bonus.

    Not showing appreciation for your employees

    When an employee or team does a good job, are they recognized? Are your employees being compensated fairly for their work? Are they being rewarded for a job well done? If you don’t show that you value your employees, they will find someone who will. Your employees are your best asset; make sure you’re showing it.

    Not recognizing, using or building employees’ talents

    Everyone wants to have a sense of purpose and to feel useful at work. If your employees have a unique or specific skillset, are they able to use or develop it on the job? Do you provide opportunities for personal or professional development? If your employees feel like they are stagnating, that exposes issues in management styles or leadership’s ability to develop employees.

    Consider training your managers to better develop employees. Give employees room to explore and create. Create a professional development program.

    Why is high employee turnover such a big deal?

    Point blank, high turnover is a bad look for the company.  Prospective employees and clients might ask – “why can’t you keep staff?” A revolving door puts employees and clients on edge. Like what is going on behind closed doors that makes people want to jump ship? You might avoid answering these questions, but that won’t stop clients and employees from thinking them and potentially acting on them – aka money walking out the door.

    Not to mention, rehiring new employees is taxing and expensive. It puts a strain on the remaining staff to cover the work the departing employee leaves. It requires time and effort to find and hire a new employee. It could take months to train and get a new employee up to speed before they are functioning at full capacity. Every time an employee leaves, they are taking valuable knowledge with them. Plus, it’s expensive. There are zero benefits for high turnover. Find the problem and get it under control.

    We’ll file repeated layoffs under this issue. If you find yourself firing or letting go of employees regularly, find out why. Do you conduct exit or stay interviews regularly? These interviews can shine a light on the cause. You might find that your hiring practices or processes are bringing you the wrong kind of employees. Or what’s more likely, is that your company culture or communication is lacking so you aren’t communicating needs correctly for a role, whether to the hiring team or to a new employee. Do you have adequate training in place so new employees can be successful on the job? Is your company culture toxic, or does it turn once happy employees into angry, unproductive ones?

  2. New ideas & creativity are rejected

    Leaders and managers that regularly reject new ideas for seemingly no reason might be relying too much on how they already do things. But an over reliance on the standard operating procedure prevents you from making improvements. This stubbornness or unwillingness to listen and adapt can spell disaster for your company. Just look at the pandemic. While so many things were out of their control, businesses that were quick to assess the situation, pivot, be flexible and change had an advantage over those that didn’t.

    Give your employees opportunities to shine

    Things will only continue to change, so make sure your leadership team looks to the future with excitement rather than fear. Embrace employees that want to help make improvements. Give them space to try new things and encourage them to take ownership of their ideas.

    Embrace future thinking

    It’s true that sometimes an idea just isn’t going to work. Maybe you lack the resources or time to see a project through. If that’s the case, explain to your employees why their idea won’t work. Can they adjust their idea to work within your limitations? Or is there a timeline you can share with them to implement it in the future? Give them options or an explanation so they understand and encourage them to share their ideas in the future. They just might have an idea that makes your business even more successful.

  3. Micromanagement is the norm

    Micromanaging means to “control every part, however small, of (an enterprise or activity).” While the motivations behind micromanaging might be different than dismissing new ideas, the effect is the same – frustrated employees. And it stems from the same problem – losing sight of the bigger picture and how important your employees are. If you don’t trust your employees, you’ll end up running a company by yourself. And you can’t grow a company as only one person, it takes a village.

    Worried about output quality

    If you are worried about the quality of the work your employees produce without you, maybe you should beef up your onboarding and training processes. You want your employees to feel confident in themselves first. When they feel good about the work, they will produce good work and that will make delegating easier for you.

    Set company values and standards that underscore the mission and goals. Your mission is the bigger picture, and projects along the way are just a means to achieve that vision. When these are written out and lived by executives and employees, you shouldn’t have as many issues with quality. Realize that mistakes will be made, and that’s ok.

    Unnecessary focus on the negative

    Executives with excessive oversight are overly worried about bad things happening. Shift your outlook from a negative to a positive attitude. Reflect on and highlight what your employees are doing well. Make yourself aware of their unique and important contributions to the company. When you focus on what’s going right, you will be able to see your employees as capable and competent. You can trust them with more responsibility over time and identify ways they can continue to improve.

  4. Poor, inconsistent or no communication from executives

    When there is little to no communication from leadership, it feels like they are hiding something from employees. Employees deserve to know what’s going on at work. If things are tough, tell them what’s happening and set out a strategy for improvement or show that you’ll weather the storm together. When you hide from your employees or aren’t forthcoming with important updates or guidance, your employees won’t trust you. Be open and transparent

    Confusing messages

    Don’t spit jargon at them either. Your employees are intelligent, but don’t overcomplicate or try to cloud an issue by using confusing words or phrases. Your job is to elucidate so everyone can understand the goals and missions of the company. True leaders need to know how to effectively communicate important messages and instill a sense of purpose and drive in their employees.

    Erratic leadership style

    Do executives say one thing and then do another? Do they go back and forth on processes or decisions? Your employees look to you as an example. You set the standard. Your actions need to be consistent with what you say and with company values and standards. If you set company standards or processes, stick to them. Leaders need to set the course, and then execute plans with confidence and steadfastness. If you don’t, you’ll have frustrated employees that want to leave.

  5. Pointing fingers

    Part of being a leader is taking responsibility for your employees’ successes and for their failures. You are a team; you win and lose together. When an employee makes a mistake, don’t publicly shame them. Don’t pass the blame onto another employee or team.

    No room for mistakes

    The worst thing you can do is create an environment where mistakes are avoided. It’s only by making mistakes that we learn. Your goal should be to create a learning environment, where failures or shortcomings are framed as opportunities for improvement. When you have a realistic approach to mistakes, acknowledging that they will happen no matter what you do, you can move on from them quicker. Teach your employees to think on their feet, to be solution-oriented, trusting, and to be team players.

    No process for fixing mistakes

    Passing the blame could highlight areas that are consistently underperforming. If something keeps going wrong and it’s not being fixed, then you know that you need some standard operating procedures, better training, or quality control.

    Every team and company should have processes in place to handle when mistakes are made, and then to make sure they don’t happen again. When your system is working, you’ll see that issues resolve faster, more efficiently, and more effectively.

Key takeaways

Poor management practices show up in a myriad of ways, but many of the solutions are universal. Improving on just one of the key takeaways below could alleviate several of the problems we listed. In short – treat your people well and you’ll be in good shape. It’s that simple.

  • Trust your people.
  • Value your people.
  • Reward your people.
  • Openly communicate.
  • Welcome & encourage mistakes.
  • Have good training and professional development programs.
  • Have a defined vision, mission and goals.