Lindsay Bell

Dear Manager: You Might Need a Tuneup

By: Lindsay Bell | November 28, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is by Lindsay Bell.

It’s no secret here in the SpinSucks space that I have a great boss.

And while I get teased mercilessly about my appreciation for Gini (I’m looking at YOU, Danny Brown), people need to stop and ask themselves why I’m so appreciative.

There are many reasons I gush over Gini.

She treats me with respect.

She trusts me to do the job I was hired to do.

She allows her team to have fun and be silly – in public!

And she liberally doles out positive feedback.

Erm, aren’t these just the normal things that any boss/manager would do? Sadly, they are not. I have worked with some vicious managers, and have heard scads of similar stories from friends and family. I don’t have the answers as to why there continue to be dictator’esque bosses and managers out there.

But I have been in the workforce a *koff* really long time, so based on experience, I leave you with a few things to think about if you’re managing an underachieving team or department.

Maybe You Hired Wrong

Don’t hire someone, and then belittle what they bring to the table. They probably endured numerous interviews to land the job – and unless they are Oscar-worthy actors, you probably had a good feel for their skills and experience before you hired them. By all means, work with them if you need change or growth. But don’t blame them if you hired wrong.

Beware Favoritism

Having best pals on the job can cause all kinds of conflict. Too much gossip. Discomfort if you need to discipline. Or, the old high school standard: Someone on staff becomes the Queen Bee. And whether the favoured one then gets all the insider info – which their colleagues have no access to – or simply ‘can do no wrong,’ it’s a dangerous situation for management to have to juggle. You need to be acutely aware of these inter-staff relationships, and ensure they aren’t upsetting the apple cart or clouding judgement. Most importantly, if you’re a manager with a public close personal relationship with a subordinate staff member, it behooves you to be extra sure the rest of the team doesn’t feel passed over or unfairly treated because of it.

Do You Share the Wealth?

It doesn’t matter what goals or performance benchmarks you’re trying to hit, being afraid to share sensitive company information with your staff will hobble your efforts and leave your team feeling like they’re back in kindergarten. Hiding top-level information and doling it out in dribs and drabs does not provide a clear picture for your team of where you’re at or where you aspire to be next month/quarter/year. You’ve hired professionals – trust them to be privy to company information and look ahead projections and allow your team to have ownership of sensitive data. Let them work with you, instead of just for you.

Even Superheroes Need Help

Ok, I tease Gini a lot by calling her a robot. Which is pretty darned close to a superhero. Robot superhero!

She doesn’t take kindly to that particular term of endearment, granted, but Gini is able to BE a robot superhero because she relies on her team to help her. She doesn’t hoard responsibility. She shares the work load, and delegates where possible. And she doesn’t want to constantly be the one in the limelight, or take all the credit for everything. Something far too many managers – whether from fear or puffery – seem obsessed with doing.

Now, before the pointy stakes and fiery torches come out, I recognize that there are many, many incredible employers, managers, corporate leaders etc., out there.

Old habits die hard. But if any of you are struggling these days with an unhappy, under-achieving team, I hope you will stop and take a minute to look inward. There just might be a thing or two that could use a tweak.

Lindsay Bell is the content director at Arment Dietrich, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, and two annoying cats. 

About Lindsay Bell


Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

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