5 Ways to Make your Team Hate You
It's inevitable that things are going to go wrong in the workplace. There's no way you're going to go through a single day and do every single thing correctly. It's just impossible. Now, you've got to accept that, okay? You'll understand that. You know everything is not going to go right. You're gonna do the best that you can. But there are some things that are in your control. And so what I wanna start out with, I can't tell you how to do everything right. But I can tell you five things to make sure you don't do. And what I'm gonna start out with is saying here's five things, don't do these five things. So if you have nowhere, you don't know where to start, you don't know what to do, start with these five things. The first one, change your mind. As a boss, your job is to keep the train moving. You can't tell me the ball is red and then five minutes later say the ball is blue. And you can't three days later tell me the ball is purple. If you tell me the ball is red, I want the ball to ...
be red. 'Cause if you keep changing your mind eventually I'm gonna stop listening to you, and when you say, "Hey go do that report" I'm gonna be thinking, hey, wait a minute, two days ago he told me to do a report and then he changed his mind. So maybe I'm gonna slow play this. Maybe I'm not gonna work on that report to wait to see if he changes his mind. So look what happened. All of a sudden, doubt has crept into the relationship and you've lost that trust, and the thing you don't realize is you're trying to make the right choice, right? No one has a bad intention of being like I'm gonna get my team today, I'm gonna tell them to do this report, I'm gonna wait three hours, and then I'm gonna tell 'em to do something different. There's nobody out there trying to do that. So I understand bosses have good intentions. But the point is sometimes it's just about moving the train down the track. Because we could all sit here, we could sit here for hours or days and think about icy pops, and think about which is the best color icy pop. You know, I like the red one, but then I look at it again, I go, oh but I had a good memory of eating an orange icy pop maybe I should do that one. And then someone else is like, "what about the green one? "'Cause everybody likes green, green is positive." And the truth is we could argue forever about these things but the point was why didn't I just pick the red icy pop and then let's just keep going? And sometimes I'm gonna get it right, sometimes I'm gonna get it wrong, but it's actually very important to make a decision and then just keep going. Accept that sometimes it'll go wrong, but make the decision and just keep going. If you're a boss that's waffling all the time, changing their mind, you're gonna lose your credibility and the other thing you don't realize is you're actually ruining your employee's life. Whoa, heavy, right? Like, I'm not ruining their lives, I'm just changing colors between the ice pops, but the truth is you're ruining your employees lives, because when you change your mind an hour later, your employee has to redo all that work, and now they're behind on the other work, and now instead of getting out at 5: they get out at 6:00. Now it doesn't seem like a big deal. That's invisible, no one's actually putting those pieces together, but that's what's happening. Now, if I told you your inability to make a decision and stick to it was adding an hour to everyone's work day wouldn't that carry a different weight? Now if I told you your inability to pick which icy pop meant that someone on your team didn't get to watch their daughter score their first goal at the soccer game, wouldn't you feel like, oh my gosh, that's happening every single day. Your inability to make a decision and just keep going is getting in the way not only of the work, but it's getting in the way of people's personal lives, so make a decision and move on. Now the next thing I wanna talk about is getting overruled. If your boss is constantly contradicting you, you tell your team to go do this, your boss comes in and says "No no no, do it this other way," if that's happening your team can't help but think, "my boss sucks at their job." Because why in the world would I listen to my boss if their boss keeps telling them to do things differently? And so you lose credibility, people stop working for you, they stop listening to you, they keep waiting for your boss to make the decision, and things start moving slowly, work doesn't get done, and then you're the boss whose team can't get stuff done and you can't figure out why. And there's a thousand different things you're gonna chase. You're gonna chase shadows all over but it comes down to you didn't take the time to get aligned with your boss before you rolled out the project or the initiative or how to fill out the form with your team. And so this one's really, really simple to solve. You have to have a one on one meeting with your boss every single week of the year. There's no exceptions, and there's no, hey, I just talk to my boss whenever he's around and we just do this, or you know, my boss is around, she's really nice, we just talk, that doesn't work. You have to have one on one time with your boss every single week, and you have to show up to that meeting, and you have to get the answers you need. You have to get the alignment of your boss so you can confidently go back to your team and feel like, I know the direction I'm gonna give is already approved by my manager, and I'm not gonna get overruled. I'm not gonna lose my credibility, 'cause I've already checked. Now some people don't like that 'cause it means you gotta think ahead. You gotta plan ahead, you've gotta ask in advance. But that's part of being a boss, anticipating these problems and getting ahead of them. So the solution to getting overruled if you find yourself in this situation, ask your boss in advance, set up the one to one meeting. If your boss says "I don't wanna do one on one meetings" tell them that Justin Kerr told me I have to have a one on one meeting if I'm gonna be good at my job. If they still say no, send them to me, I'll send them a copy of the book, and we'll work this thing out. I'm in it with you, okay? But make sure you don't get overruled. Be careful. Just a few overrules have a long tail and can last a while, okay? So the next thing I wanna talk about, this one's pretty obvious, but I hope it's obvious, taking credit for other people's work. The fastest way to make your team hate you is to try and take credit for their work. Now I wanna take a moment to think about this, because early in your career, there might be a time and a place where it's appropriate for a little bit of look at me. You wanna stand out, you wanna show what you're capable of, you need to have some hero moments where people are saying, "hey you know what? "that person knows what they're doing. "I like the way they spoke in that meeting. "I like the way they ran that. "Hey they took control of that meeting." That's fantastic. There's a time and a place for that, but as you become a boss, there's a transition and it's an invisible line, and people take a while to catch up to this, but being a boss is not about trying to take credit for everything that's going on, and your boss might not realize that, but your team does, 'cause they're the ones that did the work. So when you stand up and say, hey I've got the solution, and you don't give credit to your team, there's no more sure way to make them hate you. Now they're not gonna walk up to you and go "I hate you." No, they're not gonna do that. But they're not gonna say nice things about you. They're not gonna work as hard for you. When you need a favor, who wants to do a favor for the person they don't like? Alright? So the point of being a boss is you look good when they look good. Now that takes a lot of confidence, that takes a lot of training. It took me years to grow into that, I can tell you. Years of me taking credit for my team's work. If my team's out there, I apologize, I've learned, I'm getting better, I'm making amends, trying to teach people from my mistakes, but the point is you look good when they look good. Now one of the things to watch out for, is, and this is kind of a pro tip, when you're a boss one of the things you feel is I want everyone to know I'm the boss. I gotta show that I'm the boss, I gotta take control of this meeting, I gotta make a point here. And the truth is everybody knows you're the boss, so chill out. You don't need to prove it in every meeting. Chill out. Let someone else take the credit for a moment. Let someone else shine. Have the self confidence to sit there and let the good work come through. There's plenty of little ways that you can try and grab a little bit of that credit or spread it around, but just chill out, and I wish someone had told me that, 'cause I know I went around for years, I probably still do it, running around trying to prove myself, be like, I'm a boss, I am a director, look at me be a director right now! And that's like an old behavior, right? That was like assistant, like, I'm trying to stand out in the crowd. So you've got to let go of that a little bit. So don't take credit for other people's work. Some people think that they're sneaking it past everyone, and you're not sneaking it past anyone. So be careful. Now the next one, I'm really really passionate about. Never replying to emails. Your team needs your approval to keep doing the work that they need to do. That's just the fact of being a boss, that's part of it, you give approvals, you give direction so they can keep going. Now if you don't answer their emails, they're literally sitting there wasting time. They're just in a holding pattern, they're just kinda sitting there, they can't go anywhere they can't land here, they can't complete the project, it's totally invisible. And I know, by the way, you've got other meetings, you've got other things to do, but that whole time you're not answering an email they're just sitting there. And so people don't work late because they love what they're doing. People work late because you don't answer their emails. That's a responsibility that you bear. And you need to understand the impact that it has on people's lives. Just like I said earlier, if you don't answer the email, they're working 30 minutes later than they had to. They're working an hour later 'cause it took you three hours to answer their email. And this is a weight, right, because as a boss you're like, well, I'm doing the best I can. I'm in meetings all day, what am I supposed to do? Well, the truth is, you gotta figure it out. Otherwise, what you're saying is hey, I don't know, not my problem, that's their problem. There's always a solution. There's always efficiencies. Get into work early, answer everyone's emails, stay on top of it. When you've got five extra minutes between meetings, are you just hanging out or are you jumping on your computer trying to answer emails so you keep the train moving? You are at the center of this, you've got to keep things going. You can't indulge in I'll get to it later. You've gotta to be proficient in responding to emails and then sending them out. Now, there's a whole book I wrote about how to write an email and make sure people write to you effectively so that you can answer them easily, but your job as a boss is you've got to reply to emails. Now, the other thing I'm very insistent upon saying is don't write emails at night. Don't go home and sit there with a glass of wine and write emails. First of all, alcohol and emails don't mix. Seems like a good idea, not a good idea. The second point is, what kind of example are you setting for your team when they get an email at 10 p.m. saying, whatever it says, it doesn't matter what it says, what it says is my boss sucks at their job. My boss can't get their job done during normal working hours so now they're writing emails late at night and now does my boss expect me to work late at night? You've totally confused the situation and you've actually shined a light on the fact that you can't get the job done. So don't send emails at night. As much as you think it's great, you're like I'm staying on top of everything, look at me, in between shows I'm answering emails, that's not like something to be proud of. So don't do it. It's okay to send them early in the morning, but don't send them late at night when it's personal time. And by the way, little hint in case you haven't figured this out, your friends and family really don't like when you're doing work emails at home. There's nothing cool about that. There's nothing like, whoa, look at that person working so hard, this is another human being who wants to spend time with you. And by the way, you're spending nine hours of your day with a bunch of strangers in an office, so if you have two hours of waking hours with the people you love and care about, focus on them, okay? The other thing I'm gonna say, second pro tip, don't send emails on the weekends. Nothing good happens on the weekend. I have been working for 17 years, I've never checked an email on the weekend, I've never checked an email after 5 p.m. And I've been just fine. I've run up big corporations into big titles running billion dollar businesses, I did just fine. Don't worry about it, you'll be okay. Don't send emails on the weekends. So just a little word to the wise. Now the next thing I wanna talk about is avoiding tough conversations. Now this is my niece Hannah, and this is her little plush bunny rabbit, and you can see someone has obviously avoided a tough conversation, or just had a tough conversation, and this is why we avoid tough conversations, we don't want a face like that looking back at us. But the truth is when you avoid a tough conversation you let a little thing become a big thing, and I talked earlier about the number one way to make your team hate you is take credit for their work, that's for the team. The number one way to make an individual hate you is to avoid a tough conversation. Now, specifically what I mean by that is if by your silence you've led someone to believe they might be getting promoted, and you've just like kind of ignored it and you're just like, I don't wanna tell 'em that they're not gonna get promoted. It only gets worse the longer you wait. Have that conversation early. People appreciate honesty even when it hurts a little bit. So you've got to say the thing. There's no running and hiding. It's gonna follow you wherever you go. So there is no possibility. All you're doing is forestalling the inevitable. So have the tough conversation, be honest about it, and then get on with your life. So this was the last way that I just wanna warn you, these are five easy things to avoid doing so that your team doesn't hate you.