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Signs You’re A Bad Manager:#4 You Are Inconsistent

July 20, 2015

Rodney, I need you to make sure your reports are in by 10 AM on Friday. Even if you have to file an incomplete report, that’s better than being late.

Okay, got it.

I painted the railing on my porch last weekend. The railing is wrought iron and is gloss white. I have a quart can of high gloss paint that I use. Typically, the winter months will result in some small rust spots. A few dabs with the paint brush and the railing looks good as new.

Except this time it didn’t. This time, the dabs with the paint brush were sloppy and ugly. Sometime over the past year the paint separated. I tried mixing it up, but I’m still left with a globby mess. It was the best I had, so I used it anyway, but it was pretty ugly.

The pain lacked consistency. I didn’t know what to expect each time I put my paintbrush into the can. It was frustrating and led to terrible results.

The same thing happens when as a manager you are not consistent. Do your employees know from day to day what to expect from you?

“Rodney, your report last week didn’t include the new product line results.”

“No, the results didn’t come in until 9:45 and there just wasn’t time to get them included for the 10:00 AM report.”

“That’s unacceptable. Your numbers are worthless without that new line. It was a complete waste of time for me to even read through them.”

What’s most important? including the new data and being late, or being on time even if the results are incomplete? There is no right answer, except that once you set a standard, stick to it.

I once got a new manager. During her first team meeting, I had to deal with a service outage. I actually dialed into both conference bridges and let her know through IM that I was working another issue.

“This is the one hour a week I need you 100% devoted to team business.”

Okay, team meetings are paramount to her. Got it. Except that for the next three weeks she cancelled our team meetings because she had to deal with a client issue.

I get it. You get it. We all understand that things come up, But, as a manager, don’t insist on one set of standards for your employees and hold yourself to a different set?

It would have been better if she had acknowledged that “Yeah, I know. Sometimes things come up.” And then she would have left herself an out later when she had her own conflicts. As it was, she came across looking out of touch. As if the rules didn’t apply to her.

Like paint, or pancake batter, consistency is important. Your team often doesn’t care which way you want something done, they only want to know what way you want it done so they can complete it correctly.

Avoid ultimatums. They are difficult to recover from. And if you do find you’ve been inconsistent, admit it and commit to do better.

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