Overcoming the Symptoms of Destructive Management

A problem has been percolating in organizations for some time. Its adverse affects have become common place and too little is being done about it: The problem is destructive management.

A Workplace Gasping for Air

Today’s workplace is hardly a reflection of our best work. Choking the workplace and creating intolerable work environments are outdated manager mindsets about the role work plays in people’s lives and in society. Making matters worse, moldy cultures and climates linger. Workplace fulfillment is absent.

Strategy firm Root found in their research that 68 percent of survey respondents believed managers are more interested in their own success than inspiring their direct reports. It’s no surprise that found that 65 percent of employees in their study would prefer a new boss over a pay increase.

It’s not just management malaise at the middle-layer of the hierarchy holding back organizations and its employees. It’s also low trust in senior management’s business intentions. Consider the findings in last year’s Edelmen Trust Barometer report. 54 percent of participants said that business growth or greed is the real reason behind innovation.

Symptoms of Destructive Management

The swirl of problems identified above makes it tough to identify their causes. Today’s managers need to look for symptoms in their own work environment. What’s more, they need to look for symptoms caused by them.

Symptom 1: Blind Impact. This is when managers are unaware of how their actions, attitudes, and words impact others. These managers consistently underestimate the value people have on the business.

Symptom 2: Antisocial Leadership. An antisocial leader doesn’t have the skills to encourage, build, and evolve a community of people united by a shared purpose.

Symptom 3: Chronic Change Resistance. This is a manager’s resistance to adapt to change, initiate it, or support it. It’s also an organization’s naivety or arrogance in recognizing how changing business conditions affect strategy and operations.

Symptom 4: Profit Myopia. Managers with this symptom habitually look to profit as the best measure of success. These managers don’t know of other ways to measure their team’s or the company’s impact on those whom they serve.

Symptom 5: Constipated Inspiration. This symptom infects managers’ leadership styles and prevents them from learning how to inspire their team.

Symptom 6: Silo Syndrome. A manager afflicted with silo syndrome cannot see beyond his immediate responsibilities and has no awareness of the impacts his decisions have on others.

Antidotes to Overcome Destructive Management

The keys to prevail over destructive management is to double down on how you relate to people and personally focus on your leadership style.

  1. Cultivate workplace optimism

Workplace optimism gives hope to employees that good things will come from their hard work. It’s a description of how it feels to work on a team.

  1. Magnify meaning

Three areas of meaning are important to people: social, work, and personal. Help your employees find meaning in the relationships they have and develop in their work (social). Connect your employees’ efforts to a bigger picture (work). We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Talk with your employees about what is meaningful to them in their careers and in life (personal).

  1. Know your impact

Your leadership style has the greatest impact on your employees’ work experience. Spend time talking with a trusted few to learn how your style enables and creates barriers to performance.

  1. Increase connection

As human beings, we crave connection with others. We’re social animals. Develop ways to intentionally help your team connect. A great tool is HopeLab’s Check-in Cards.

While organizations struggle to find ways to counter the influences of destructive management, you can act and improve your team’s work environments. Focus your work on creating energizing, positive work environments. It’s the context that significantly influences how people feel about work and go about doing it.

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