TOP TEN TIPS: Management Mistakes To Avoid In A Recession

Managing team is never easy, but in today’s economy it poses particular challenge. Most companies are feeling increased pressure to do more with less – in many cases, lot less. How can you keep your employees motivated and inspired to do their best work when you have fewer rewards to offer? Moreover, how can you get ready for the inevitable upturn? When the economic pendulum swings, will your top talent still be with you?
To retain top performers and keep your organisation running smoothly so you are poised to recover quickly in the turnaround, there are 10 common management mistakes to avoid. By reviewing these stumbling blocks and taking measures to avoid them, you can make your workplace more productive and, ultimately, pave the way for long-term success.

1. Treating people as if they are lucky just to have job
True, many people feel fortunate to have stable position in this economy, but your most talented employees always have options. Good people are always marketable and you want your best people to stay with you for the long term. Continue to treat them with respect, and they will remain loyal.

2. Assuming employees are mind readers
You’ve spent your week implementing cost-cutting measures – and now your accounts assistant has requested salary increase. It may be bad timing, but unless you communicate openly and often, your team will not know the business realities of the company. If you want them to work with you, give them the information they need to do so. But also remember, the rumour mill exists in every organisation especially when there are shut doors, cancelled meetings and whispered conversations. If your staff don’t hear the news from you, they will hear it from someone else, and it may not be entirely accurate.

3. Failing to show recognition
Many senior managers would be the first to admit they could offer bit more positive reinforcement to their teams. There is no such thing as too much praise, as long as it’s specific, genuine and timely. And don’t simply save the praise for last – once contract is signed or project is complete. It’s nice to thank people for job well done, but keep in mind that encouragement along the way works wonders in building motivation and productivity.
It’s easy to make the mistake of spending too much time and resources trying to improve the performance of average employees while ignoring your strongest talent. But while building skills is important, your top talent are often responsible for your company’s greatest successes and will be the ones who get you through this. Spend time showing appreciation.

4. Blaming your employees
Managers who do not support their workers lose their trust. Stand up for your team members, particularly if they are unfairly criticised, and make sure you don’t unfairly blame them for business difficulties that are not of their making. If you are there for them, they will be there for you.

5. Equating busy with productive
Don’t base employee recognition on who’s working the longest hours. Instead, reward people based on the results they generate towards company objectives. It will help you cut costs and boost productivity.

6. Making work ‘mission impossible’
Lay-offs and budget cuts may mean one person has to do the jobs of two or more people. Don’t expect them to achieve everything. Decide which projects are mission critical and delegate, or postpone remaining tasks. Bring in temporary workers to help where necessary.

7. Waiting for an economic turnaround
If you have good idea, don’t wait for recovery to implement it. You’ll get head start on the competition by making your move now.

8. Sacrificing quality
When people are busy, mistakes are more likely to occur. But don’t let service levels slide because your team is swamped. You’ll create low standard that will be difficult to break once workloads return to normal.

9. Making the wrong cuts
Most companies have had to reduce spending, but be careful about slashing services to your clients. If they’re used to receiving certain benefits, taking them away can be mistake. And shifting your focus from the front line could be fatal – customer service counts all the more when times are tough. Are you doing everything possible to make sure those who are the first point of contact with your company send the right message? If these employees come across as indifferent, you could lose prospective and existing clients.
Think twice before cutting staff development budgets, as enhancing your employees’ skills can pay off in the short and the long-term.

10. Tying your employees’ hands
When business is tough, it’s tempting to want to control everything. But that demotivates staff and is frequently counter-productive. Empower your team to make decisions that will ensure positive customer and client experiences. Provide guidance on how to resolve dilemmas most successfully, and let them know what they did well and what could have been done better.

Megan Alexander is senior manager of employment specialist firm Robert Half
in Auckland. www.roberthalf.co.nz

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