From my experience, and from what I hear from many of you, we’ve had to endure “Gotcha” management. This is the type of management that provides no positive reinforcement; rather it waits for you to screw up and then, and only then, do you get an audience with your supervisor. This style of management also discourages out of the box thinking, because countering the present status quo brands you with the label “subversive,” “malcontent,” “not a team player,” and the proverbial “squeaky wheel.” So, you just hunker down, and try not to poke your nose above your cube in order not to be a target.
I have two words for this type of management (I won’t call it leadership, because it’s not), and that is “it sucks.”
We all need to be recognized and affirmed that we are going a good job. And, we need to know when we have veered off the path. However, in order to do the latter and have any impact, you have to do the former. By recognizing great performance on a consistent basis, you win the right to address the not so great. But WAIT, you say, I am the boss and I have a right to address poor work performance! You are absolutely right. But, I would suggest that you also have the responsibility to be sure that your employees know that they are valued. Keep in mind that the #1 reason employees leave their job is because of the relationship (or lack thereof) with their immediate supervisor.
Lack of feedback can make us all paranoid; worse yet, when you are the one called to the woodshed, you know you have done something to displease Mr. or Ms. Gotcha, so automatically your defenses go up, your ability to think clearly tanks, and the session will serve only to punish. I believe punishment (e.g., suspensions or terminations) should be reserved for the most vile offenses, and that screw ups can be addressed humanely and with dignity and respect.
Next time we’ll explore options for managers and non-managers. Stay tuned!