Welcome to this HR blast. This time we take a 2 minute look at how managers often expose their organisations to risk of litigation, walking you through 10 typical mistakes that managers make. You could even create a very valuable training course out of these!
As well as putting forward our top ten list of human failings of managers, most importantly of course, we offer you some of our thoughts on supporting developing managers to minimise these risks.
If you are supporting or are yourself a first-time manager, you might want to have a read through this article first: The 10 things first-time managers need to know about.
10 mistakes managers make and how to minimise the risks
1. Poor communication
When managers don’t pass on all the relevant information, when notes aren’t taken, when information is relayed too little and too late, when managers do a disappearing trick to avoid a difficult situation…all cost dear when managing grievances, tribunal responses, disciplinary and other staff issues.
- Modernise your communication methods if it might encourage some managers to communicate more – if appropriate, you could even try using WhatsApp, Tango, Skype etc. to encourage more regular contact and communication.
- When you have a manager who hates writing things down, encourage voice memos and recordings to be used for regular note taking. Just because that’s not the way it used to be done, it doesn’t mean it can’t work that way now.
- Create more structure around communication. Weekly updates, weekly reporting, acceptable time-frames to reply to voicemails, emails etc. What are your business standards around communication and professional business etiquette? Communicate them!
2. BHISS – burying head in sand syndrome
Ignoring an email, voicemail or grievance or appeal letter won’t just make the problem go away. BHISS managers need to grow up fast and understand the huge repercussions that can result from their behaviour.
- If managers suffer from this, talk to them about it before the damage is done and explain what they need to do. Don’t just put up and shut up and know that the consequences are likely to be expensive.
- Make managers, not HR, responsible for staffing issues that go belly up. Make sure they have no choice but to deal with the issues themselves.
- Arrange some ‘dealing with conflict’ training or one to one coaching.
Dishonesty is not acceptable even if you are only doing it to cover your back and save your job after making a mistake. Falsifying records so you can fire an employee, putting pressure on witnesses to produce witness statements that back you up, lying about what you said to whom and when is as dishonest as it gets and it will often come back to bite you in the backside.
- If you have a culture where dishonesty is an acceptable action to protect your back and your job, then it’s time to review what on earth is going on in the organisation and where you are ultimately headed.
- If you would discipline a dishonest employee, then why not discipline a dishonest manager?
- Make sure managers see and pay for any legal bills, tribunal compensation and other costs incurred as a result of their mismanagement compounded by their dishonesty.
4. Lack of accountability/responsibility
Employees are the managers’ responsibility. No one is going to fly in on a magic carpet to make the problems go away. Every day a difficult situation is left unmanaged costs the organisation time and money, as well as potentially making the problem even worse.
- Introduce KPIs for managers around effective people management.
- Give managers training so they fully understand their responsibilities in respect of people management.
- Consider whether your whole management culture needs a rethink if too many of your managers demonstrate insufficient accountability.
5. Failure to spot the ‘red flags’
Not seeing or understanding the warning signs usually results in managers failing to seek proper and timely advice on subject areas outside their expertise. This in turn, can result in some very costly tribunals and employee dismissals.
- Identify which managers you have who know the legislation, but who still feel justified in allowing their personal prejudices to ignore the ‘red flags’. Take a look at this article on how over 80% of those recruiting into retail jobs continue to discriminate against the overweight despite recent legislation around this.
- Deliver some training to managers around ‘understanding essential employment law’.
- Make sure all your managers KPIs are not just around commercial targets and goals and as a result ignore goals around good people management. You need a balance so managers will take action when they see a ‘red flag’.
6. Too emotional
However wound up a manager might be, when making decisions about staff they need to feel calm and in control. Allowing emotions to dictate actions usually results in bad decisions, unexpected consequences and situations that escalate out of control.
- Why not pay to get your managers tested on emotional intelligence skills. At Jaluch we use the Thomas International EI assessment tool and it could help you identify where training is most needed and on what topics.
- Give managers training in conflict management so they feel more confident in what they are doing and are therefore likely to be less emotional as a result.
- Identify which of your managers might make errors due to being too emotional at work as a result of ongoing stress. Support them before they make their errors.
7. Failure to follow rules and procedures
Inexcusable in this day and age with health and safety, employment legislation etc. There is a difference though between those managers who deliberately fail to follow procedures versus those who don’t understand what the procedures are or feel confident in how to apply them.
- Training for managers in essential employment law, managing grievances, managing disciplinaries and dismissals.
- One to one coaching for wayward managers who just don’t seem to get what they are exposing their organisations too. Coaching is a chance to get to the bottom of what it is they don’t get or don’t buy into.
- Better inductions for those progressing into management or supervisory roles for the first time around people management procedures.
8. Poor organisation
Not every person is born with great personal organisational skills, but a lack of them in the workplace can lead to missed deadlines, fines, grievances, poor employee relations, staff turnover and badly managed absence. As well as a lot of other things!
- Coaching for those managers struggling with personal organisation.
- A review of your internal management systems might identify ways to streamline things and reduce paperwork and admin.
- With the unremitting removal of admin support in recent decades, many managers have been left floundering and overloaded. Is it time to review how managers are supported with admin tasks, leaving them free to do the really important stuff and in so doing, minimise litigation exposure?
9. Poor influencing skills
We don’t often talk about how managers need to have strong influencing skills. When did you last see a training session on this? But when managers struggle to influence those around them then situations can escalate or go unmanaged. Influencing employees, superiors, advisors, consultants and suppliers, managers need to influence all those around them to ensure the best results for the organisation.
- Training on developing influencing skills.
- Psychometric assessments (we use Success Insights and Thomas International) to help managers understand their own communication strengths and development needs.
- Organisational leaders to mentor managers with a view to supporting them to develop their influencing skills.
10. Failure to delegate
Last but not least, if you don’t learn to delegate, you will eventually learn what it’s like to get swamped. And when you are swamped, paperwork gets lost, communication ceases, errors occur and costs to put it all right can escalate. Not good news.
- Not everyone finds it easy to delegate, so give them some training.
- Identify where blockages occur across your management team so you can identify where support needs to be provided with delegating.
- Work with those who have perfectionist tendencies and ensure you develop a culture in the business where services and products are ‘fit for purpose’ rather than ‘perfect’. This might help some of those feel more comfortable about delegating.
Workshop style delivery and Training Kits available:
Managing Discipline, Managing Grievances, Absence Management, Conducting Appraisals, Coaching Skills for Managers, Motivating, Engaging and Retaining Staff, Diversity and Inclusion, Recruitment Skills, Managing Change. Click here to view them all in our online store. If you’d like to talk to one of the team about our training kits then please email us.
A challenge for you…
Interested to see what the top ten list of another member of the Jaluch team would be? Here it is!
- A lack of imagination i.e. they can’t see the potential implications of their actions
- Arrogance – thinking they’re more experienced than they are
- A lack of attention to detail e.g. following disciplinary procedures correctly
- Running away from dealing with difficult situations – usually makes it much worse in the long run!
- Commercial expediency
- Too kind and as a result they aren’t straight with people
- Think one thing & say/do another – confuses people
- They don’t listen & seek to really understand
- Lack of standards – easily tempted to cut corners e.g. H&S issues
- Too accepting – need to challenge & wonder whether things are being managed as well as possible
Why not ask your senior team to do the exercise themselves next time you meet? It will only take 10 minutes, but should flag up all the common issues relevant for your organisation.
The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.