Women Managers’ Woes

There are many woes that face women managers today, but below are the ones most often complained about by employees and how you as a manager can resolve them.

Untapped Professional Potential — Don’t be guilty of negating the wealth of brainpower you have on hand. Ignore the old myth there’s no time to brainstorm for solutions. If you don’t give time and attention to problems now, then you’ll regret the time you spend on them later. It was secretary Bette Nesmith Graham, who invented liquid paper after many attempts at erasing and improving typed copy. Keep your eyes and ears open for contributions from all corners and don’t be in a hurry to dismiss ideas as unnecessary or impossible.

Unmotivated to Inspire Peak Performance — Not every job can offer exciting challenges and innovative stimulation. It can be difficult to ask those who work with you to bear down and focus on a needed, but menial task, especially when you know they’re not using their full range of talents and experience. Vary the personnel you assign to these tasks as often as you can.

Unappreciative — It is difficult to be told you don’t sufficiently praise your employees when you know you are pleased with them. But it could be it’s just not getting across. Could it be you need to vary your feedback? If you’re bankrupt as to different ways to praise your employees then nearly any management book will give you suggestions. A few are, in addition to verbal thanks, praising them in public at office meetings and writing an email thank you. Most personal thank you’s by hardcopy have gone by the wayside, so putting your thank you in a card will really stick out and make a lasting impression.

Weak Communication — Across the Board Communication misunderstandings are at the root of most, if not all, office breakdowns. Be attentive to how and when you say things. Listen carefully when others are speaking to you. Don’t multitask when an employee or supervisor comes into your office. If you’re distracted and can’t talk then, tell them when you can give them your full attention and be available at that time. Offer constructive feedback if asked.

Missed Course Corrections — Your job is to “manage” and that includes helping your employees learn the lessons from their failures. (Do you learn from yours? That’s a place to start.) Shorten their learning curve. Billion Dollar Lessons’ authors claim humans are hard-wired to come up with bad strategies regardless of their vigilance or evaluative processes. So help your employees to stress test their strategies, which should be done at the beginning, midway and as an important follow-up procedure.

Workable Teams — Too often managers feel they have to oversee or micromanage a project and have the final say. William Bridges of Managing Transitions, suggests the use of a shared power in using monitoring teams during any large project or change process. The teams are well-rounded employee samplings and their job is to offer feedback during any change process, to identify and report problems early on. They are also a great way to encourage employee feedback and value collective leadership.

Settling for the First Cut — Most of us are so relieved to come to any solution to a problem, we will settle prematurely. A management woe is having to backpaddle if solutions have not been stress-tested, which loses time, money and energy. Don’t ignore objectivity when presented with solutions and encourage this same thinking in your employees so they will examine other possible alternatives thoroughly, even considering their ideas would potentially fail. Only with that unattached thinking and open scrutiny can new, innovative and useful ideas emerge.

In today’s economic whirlwind, dealing with fluctuating budgets, personnel problems and reorganizing before and following layoffs are all important issues, along with many more. Regardless of what your woes are, seek the wisdom of peer managers and, without naming names, requesting input will likely result in seasoned advice. A coach who has dealt with those problems when they were a manager themselves, or through the situations of their clients, can also be a resource.

But no matter what you do, don’t try to be a lone wolf and tough it out yourself. If you’re afraid you’ll look incompetent, imagine how you’ll look if your situation gets out of control. Then imagine what it will be like when you are part of the solution.