Management is a very subtle process. What we do and what we don’t do, for that matter, are not always obvious. We have blind spots about some of the things we do, and there are other things we believe we are doing when, in fact, we are not.Managers quite unintentionally do things that undermine their perceptions of employee competence, and create employee dissatisfaction, yet they are totally unaware of it. But once a perception takes root, the Pygmalion Effect kicks in, with the result that we see only what we expect to see. There is some credible research to indicate that managers make up their minds about a new employee within the first five days ofemployment, and that these early impressions rarely change afterwards. If they are high on anew employee, they tend to invest more time and effort in the person, but if they are down on the new hire, they tend to withhold their time and commitment. Employees react as expected with defensive behaviors and thus begin their downward performance spirals that are so difficult to reverse. Their only salvation is to leave and seek new employment. Here are some of those subtle occurrences that cause employees to stumble.
Sink or Swim:
Some managers believe that allthey have to do is to tell someone once what todo or how to do something and that will be sufficient. This doesn’t always work, and this isespecially true with new hires where everything is new and foreign. When it comes to people what islogical is not always practical or smart. The solution is to ask the new hire to feedback his or her understanding of what is needed, which will ensure effective communication.
The Honeymoon Myth:
There are other managers who may lose sight of the fact that management is not marriage, and that there is no honeymoon in the workplace. Rather than deal directly with problems and offer negative feedback to new hires,
they don’t want to upset the person and let performance issues drag on too long. Performance problems don’t always self correct, so the lesson is that new hires need clear, candid, and honest feedback regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.
The Laundry List:
When presented with an extended list of things to do, none of which have been prioritized, it is easy for a new employee to misjudge what’s important and what’s not, and to put too much time into low priority matters while neglecting important ones. People, especially new hires who are eager to please, need to know what their managers consider important if they are to organize their time and remain focused on priority tasks.
New employees, including those with greater than average assertiveness, are reluctant to challenge their new bosses even when they believe they are wrong. Although they are being set up to fail by accepting unattainable deadlines or goals, they don’t want to be seen as trouble-makers. It can be said that they are complicit in placing themselves in no-win situations, but they do it with the expectation the boss will see the problem and revise the plans. Managers, on the other hand, generally assume that new employees will speak out and express disagreement. It is classic miscommunication and it can have lasting impact on how the manager perceives the new employee’s competency.
Open Door Fallacy:
It’s more miscommunication, but it happens all the time. Managers say their doors are always open, but new employees are reluctant to come to the boss for assistance, because they don’t want to appear overly-needy
or lacking in some way. Of course, we also see situations where employees, who are in over their heads, don’t even realize that they need help. The solution is communication – expectations have to be clear and managers have to make it equally clear that there is no stigma attached to seeking guidance.