I've had the incredible fortune to be in a senior level management role at a relatively early stage in my career. I'll be the first to admit that this hasn't come without its share of hard-learned lessons over the years, but every misstep provided me with a great deal of insight on how to be better.
Managing people isn't just a responsibility; it's a privilege.
In any team setting, there exists a certain level of diplomacy that if disrupted, can negatively impact everyone's output.
It's a delicate balance for managers; push too hard and you'll silence everyone's creativity and willingness to participate constructively. However if you're too lenient, you risk everyone losing sight of the big picture in place of their own individual ideals.
And this isn't just a concern for managers. Particularly in the agency setting, creatives are obsessed with having a purpose. They need fulfillment. Sure, they like to know that the work they're doing contributes to the success of the company, but they also need to believe that what they're doing is right.
This breeds passion, strong will, and inevitably some disagreements. Great managers and team members can withstand these personality traits in a constructive manner. Others choose to flex their proverbial muscle, call the shots, argue, point fingers, and inevitably turn everyone against them. It's poisonous.
Here's how to tell if you're the one doing the latter.
No one disagrees with you.
Logic would dictate that everyone would always be disagreeing with you. After all, if they hated you, wouldn't they jump at the opportunity to quarrel?
It's actually quite the opposite. Your team knows by now not to disagree with you, it simply isn't worth the effort it requires. You don't listen to their opinions anyways, and unfortunately for the entire company, only one person's vision and ideas are being realized: yours.
Punching out is a statement.
In a great work environment with a strong culture and focus on collaboration, work hours are however long it takes to get things done. No one minds sticking around when they're feeling fulfilled and appreciated.
But when things are going bad, even the hours between 9 and 5 seem like far too long to be around you. People view punching out right on time as somewhat of a statement. If you see everyone packing up and logging out at 4:59 – much like college students right before dismissal – you're probably losing your team.
You don't hear the problems.
"How come no one told me?" is a classic line from a manager or team member whose fallen out of favor with the team.
No one told you because nothing constructive would've come from doing so. They know you would've patronized them instead of actually contributing to a real solution. It's true that great employees and coworkers work to bring solutions to the table whenever they pose a challenge.
It's also true that you won't hear any of this.
Everyone is always on defense.
Great leaders invoke accountability from their peers.
When your team is comfortable, they'll have no problem speaking up to say, "I screwed up. That's on me."
Pressure isn't usually what discourages people. Negativity is. So when your team is turned against you, they'll lose the accountability and instead focus their efforts on defending themselves and their work. Sometimes vehemently. This is counterproductive for everyone involved.
Engagement is low.
Ever experience the dreaded silent meeting? If so, chances are you've lost the room.
It doesn't matter if the questions are work related or not, people have simply grown tired of talking with you based on the bad experiences they've had.
This doesn't mean no one has opinions, doesn't care, or isn't approaching their job with passion and assertiveness. It simply means they don't like to communicate these things with you.
From your experience, what signs have you noticed when your team or coworkers are clearly unengaged?
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