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Stop Doing These Five Things if You Manage People

In my column last month, I wrote about the five things you should do in order to be a great leader. I had a former student email me and ask if I had advice for new managers. The first thing that came to mind was a famous quote from Lee Iacocca that reads, “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”

Hopefully, Mr. Iacocca doesn’t mind me adding a few words to his quote. I would argue that the best managers not only motivate other people but they put them first, ahead of themselves and any self-interests. I have been fortunate to have had awesome managers on my teams, but have also worked with terrible managers. These five bad habits are the things that stand out from my experience.


  1. Don’t write MBA after your name on your email signature or business cards.


I know, I know. Your MBA was tough and expensive, so you want to let everyone know. That’s fine before you became a manager. Now, it isn’t about you. What’s next? Will you include your FICA score, or your net worth? As a manager, if you write in all your emails and auto-signatures that you are an MBA (or any other graduate degree) it makes you appear insecure or like you are bragging. Neither of those helps the employees working for you. And while you are at it, don’t hang your diploma in your office; it isn’t about you anymore.


  1. Don’t call a staff meeting just because you can’t make a decision.


One of the best traits of the best managers is the ability to be decisive and not be afraid of making decisions. Gather the facts you need and make the decision. Nothing is worse than a manager who calls multiple meetings only to say, “The department needs to make a decision about XYZ, so I’d like to get everyone talking about it so we can get to a decision.” As the manager, you shouldn’t be calling multiple department meetings just because you can’t make a decision.


  1. Stop expressing your personal opinion.


If you are a good manager, your employees won’t know if you are Republican, Democrat or Independent. They won’t know what religion you are, or what you think about the president of the United States or the president of the organization.

Again, it isn’t about you, and your personal beliefs or dislikes won’t help to motivate me or help me in my career. And while you are at it, stop adding drama and exaggeration to all the points you make doing the meeting. These are merely your personal opinions and I don’t need the drama in my life.


  1. Stop talking about yourself.


Remember, it isn’t about you so don’t tie every point you make back to you and when you did something. I saw a manager several weeks ago introduce a new employee. As she was talking about his background, she would insert how she, too, had done several of the things he brought to the organization.

Talking about yourself, making reference to what you have done or are capable of doing make you appear insecure or appear that you are trying to convince others that you know what you are doing. As a manager, your job is to motivate me, put me first and help me succeed. I’m not sure how you telling me about your experience does either of those.


  1. Stop talking negatively about anyone on your team.


Talking negatively about someone on the team is a sign of an immature or poorly trained manager. You should always, always speak positively about employees and the job they do. The worst managers are the ones who speak negatively about someone on their team to another member of the team.


If you have corrective action or input for an employee that you are managing, then discuss it with them in a one-on-one conversation. I love the manager advice that says, “Praise in public and criticize in private.”

No one has to be a manager, but if you decide it is the right career choice for you, be prepared to make sacrifices, motivate and promote others, and dedicate your day to helping others become great managers by following your examples. If you are too insecure or selfish, then don’t manage, or stop being a manager. Being a manager is indeed a privilege and every employee deserves to be managed and led by someone who puts him or her first. FBN

By T Paul Thomas

T Paul Thomas teaches business and non-profit entrepreneurship at Northern Arizona University, serves as the CEO of the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance (NALA) and is the chief entrepreneur at the NACET Accelerator. Prior to joining NAU in 2013, Paul spent 25 years as a serial CEO and president. Paul can be reached at


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