Editorial: A management self-examination

Jan 31, 2013

This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310) Issue # 993 Originally published 2/4/2013 Mark Zweig exposes his, and your, weaknesses as well as resolutions to fix them. Maybe it’s introspection that comes from old age or a desire to do better born from necessity – but either way, the realization is really sinking in that as a manager I have certain weaknesses that I have to work on. I’ve built a career on the simple idea that whatever problems I’m having other people will be facing also, so see if any of the following managerial weaknesses sound familiar to you. 1) Explaining expectations for performance. I don’t do a very good job at this. I just want people to “know” what I want/like. Perhaps I’m just too busy and don’t have time, or maybe I’m lazy, but I definitely think my lack of ability here is one of the reasons for my loyalty to long-term employees. I am such a poor educator of expectations! Resolution – spend more time one-on-one. Be willing to tolerate being disliked for being honest. 2) Confronting those who don’t meet expectations. It is the corollary to point number one above. I’m not real good at it. The thought process goes something like this: “So-and-so clearly isn’t dumb. Why do they keep doing/not doing something that is clearly important to me?” Resolution – don’t wait. The longer you go the harder it is and the less likely the confrontation will do any good. 3) Enabling and covering up. Here’s another one of my weaknesses – I enable my managers. Anyone who has ever lived with someone who is addicted to something understands what this means. You make it easy for non-performers or those with dysfunctional attitudes or behaviors to keep doing it. I do it by being too understanding, too tolerant of excuses, and too willing to give extra resources to those who ask for/demand them. The “covering up” comes from justifying poor performance/behavior problems through rationalizing them. Resolution – be LESS tolerant. Reassign people (or more) to get them into roles they can fill. Explain resource constraints to all and maybe people won’t ask for something you cannot afford! 4) Resolving conflict between employees. It drives me absolutely crazy when two people – both of whom you know are completely committed and are trying their best to do their jobs – don’t get along. So much time and mental energy is wasted on these silly conflicts. Resolution – keep working to get those who can’t get along to get along. Let each know how you feel about the other and be supportive of each of them. Keep yourself cool and calm at all times. If all else fails put them together in the same room and bang their skulls together until they get along! So many weaknesses as a manager and so little time to fix them. As I will be turning 55 next month, maybe – just maybe – I’ll live long enough to get this all figured out. Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com.

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