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The 7 Deadly Sins Of Managing People

In truth, there are more leadership sins, but these are the 7 deadliest

Sin #1 The Deadliest sin: To Not Give Employees Enough Clarity.

This is not just about providing your staff or contractors or sub contractors with a description of the tasks of their job (a Job Description or Position Description)

Avoiding sin #1 requires you to be clear with yourself and with the staff member about why the role exists and what the role is responsible for delivering to the business.

Without clarity of purpose you as employer cannot be clear on:
– hours required, and type of employment (casual, fixed term contract, part time or full time)
– pay that is appropriate
– reward or bonus
– the way in which work should be approached
– how goals should be set, let alone what goals should be set
– what skills and personal attributes are required
– how well the applicant(s) will fit in to the existing team or culture
Oh my goodness, I suspect I could/need to write a post about sin #1 on it’s own!

Sin #2 = Going Into Too Much Detail

This may sound like I am just being confusing given that I have just said that the first sin is not enough clarity. Please be aware that detail is not clarity.

Too much detail can include you going into the minute and micro details of every task with someone. It is also about a focus on the task or the doing rather than the outcome of the reason.

Beware the detail – it is said that he devil is in the detail, and I say there is a sin in too much detail. (Remembering that too little detail can also be a sin)

Going into too much detail can quickly become a rod for your leadership back as that may create the expectation that you will be there all the time and every time that your employee needs you for information on the detail of a task. This can also be demoralising for an employee and can encourage then to not think for themselves.

Sin #3: Telling Without Coaching

Every employee will need some degree of training – some more than others – but just telling someone what to do is not training. The old adage is Tell me, show me, watch me – that’s the way to get me to understand.

As a leader and employer, your people need to be taught, not told. If your style is all telling and no (or very limited) coaching and training then you are bound to have problems retaining people.

#4 Sin: Being Judgemental Rather Than Drawing Conclusions

As an experienced manager and possibly business owner, it can be very easy for us to draw conclusions and make judgements very quickly. This however is not typically helpful to staff from a learning perspective and it also carries the high risk that you will not be made privy to all the information.

Think about the last time you were talking with someone about a problem. You have previously dealt with a similar problem in the area and could reflect on your own experience and recognise the early signs of where it was going to end up this time. You resist the temptation to jump in with a solution and then the person tells you something else that had happened. Probably something that would have made your “first response” solution less effective than it could have been.

By reserving your judgement and opinion, in the instance above you saved yourself giving mis-information.
And by reserving your opinion you also:
– allow the other person to “work through it” themselves and learn along the way
– set a precedent that this person can come to your for advice and guidance rather than just to be told what to do
– maintain a more collaborative working relationship rather than one like a teacher and student
– show the other person respect by letting them describe the situation and possibly ask for your help

Sin #5: Failing To Act

As a leader it is your responsibility to take action, including to take a stance when you hear or see something that is untoward rather than totally out of line. Leaders are role models and have impact for the things that we endorse, agree to or fail to disagree with.

It is also our responsibility as leaders to step up and take action – whether that is to make an apology, or to resolve a problem or to praise a job well done or to have the tough conversation with someone who needs to improve their performance.

Leaders need to take action to deliver of the promises and decisions that have been made. Failing to act in a way that is consistent with what has been said or done is unacceptable.

And here we are at the final 2 sins

Sin#6 Is Speaking Only From Emotion, While Sin #7 Is Doing All The Telling


Yes these final sins are possibly more intense versions of the previous sins, yet that doesn’t make them any less of a sin than any of the earlier sins covered here.

Sin #6 is Speaking only from emotion, or in other words having a go at someone and letting your emotions drive what you say and how you say it. Everyone has bad days yet as leaders our bad days can have a wider effect and create disruptive and damaging waves across the team and the company.

If you need to speak to someone about an issue that affects you deeply please do your best to stay calm.

One technique that I have used and coached over the years is the IBC of emotion:

When needing to speak about something, consider your Intention and what is the ideal outcome that you would like to achieve. In other words if your intention is to “have a go” then you need to get yourself into a calmer state before speaking.

The B represents behaviour – yours in terms of how you need to behave in order to achieve your intention and to concentrate on the behaviour of the other person. This is not the time to speculate about their intention, stick to the facts of the observable behaviour.

And the C is Consequence so that you can discuss what the consequence of their behaviour was and hence the need for this conversation. It is also a reminder to you that your conversation will have a consequence and that you will need to check that your intention and behaviour has delivered the appropriate consequence.

The 7th sin is Doing All the Talking. This is related to #6 and the power of silence cannot be underestimated.
Good leaders ask good questions. And allow silence for the answers to be given.
Leaders who do all the talking are only reinforcing what they already know and are not allowing themselves to hear any other perspective. It is said that when we speak we hear our own voice yet when we listen we learn.

I hope you have found this interesting and possibly insightful in some way. If you have, please feel free to comment and share the link with colleagues.