It sounds nuts to suggest that any manager would willingly undercut her brand new hire. Talent acquisition is expensive and time consuming, and besides, what manager doesn’t relish the idea of getting a good person on board and leaving him alone to do all those things that have piled up during the void?
Undercut v. To diminish or destroy the province or effectiveness of; undermine (thefreedictionary.com).
Still, undercutting happens, and probably more frequently than some would believe. A new employee is hired, and almost immediately the manager does just about everything possible to render that employee ineffective.
Are YOU doing things to undercut your new employee? Answer yes if you …
Routinely tell your employee what to do and how to do it
The key words here are “routinely” and “and.” A new employee may need to know what to do OR how to do it, but it’s unlikely that he ROUTINELY requires both.
Always take the lead in meetings, even one-on-one meetings
A friend of mine who facilitates leadership workshops once told me that the biggest problem she sees with leaders is they haven’t learned how to be good followers. Let your employee—even your new employee—take the lead in his or her own area of expertise. All eyes don’t always have to be on the boss.
Manage your new employee’s direct reports
This. Is. So. Bad. Your employee’s “newness” is no justification for managing her staff. And no matter how small the organization, if you’ve instituted a hierarchy, respect it.
Insist that all information come through you
It’s amazing to me that any manager even has time to THINK ABOUT being everything to everyone, but apparently some do. However, requiring that employees get all their information from you, rather than speaking directly to other managers or clients, for instance, just reeks of a serious control issue and sends the message to everyone that you don’t trust your new employee. That’s not cool.
And that brings me to … drum roll please… five reasons you don’t want to undercut that new hire! (I know. Finally, right?)
- It’s so not cool. (See earlier.) Good managers build, they don’t destroy.
- The more you “do” for your employee, the less capable he feels, and eventually he’ll stop “doing” for himself. You may think you want to do everything, but trust me, you don’t. And just when you’ve decided your employee should be handling something, he’ll have handed it back to you.
- It makes you look bad. If you believe no one notices how you talk over your employee, direct her staff, and generally disregard her autonomy/authority, you’re mistaken, my friend.
- Competent employees will leave. Yes, even in this economy, because competent people don’t like to be made to feel incompetent.
- You have other things to do. You do, I know you do! Go and do those things, and let your employee manage the details of his position. You aren’t any good at it, anyway.
I’ve encountered “undercutter” managers who genuinely seemed to believe they were helping their employees, but most were just kind of selfish. It’s okay to assume the privileges of being the boss, but it’s not okay to make your employees feel “less than” just because you can. That’s bad for the team, bad for you, and bad for business.