In a leadership role, you have a lot on your plate. Analyzing reports, quality control, meetings, performance monitoring, and let’s not forget actually being human and remembering to interact with your staff. It’s pretty time consuming and without a delicate amount of coordination, it’s very easy to lose track of making sure that your team is motivated and connected at work. Although you have several responsibilities, there are just some things that you must quit if you want to connect better with your team. In this post, we’ll expose 9 practices that you think are helping you, but in reality, they’re actually toxic to employee inclusion, development, and overall engagement. There are a few PRO tips listed to help you as you begin quitting these toxic habits as well.

Quit doing everything yourself

Lack of delegation leads to employee demotivation. You don’t have to do everything yourself; especially when you have competent employees who are more than able to do certain tasks. Yes, there are indeed some leadership responsibilities that can’t be delegated. However, there are some things on your to-do list that can surely be passed along to one (or more) of your capable and experienced employees. I’m a firm believer that in many cases, overwhelm is self-inflicted in leadership. Quit stretching yourself so thin and lead more effectively by delegating. Besides, effective leaders not only surround themselves with people who are smarter than them, but an effective leader actively presents opportunities to their employees to utilize their strengths as well.

PRO tip: Delegation is a very resourceful way to motivate and develop your employees. Many employees thrive when they feel trusted to handle an assignment/project that you’ve specifically chosen them to do. It builds a sense of accountability and accomplishment.

Quit complaining

A complaining leader is a contradiction. If you expect your team to remain professional and focus on solving problems instead of contributing to them, you must first demonstrate professionalism and that does not include complaining. Influence is a critical aspect of being a leader. Once you display that complaining is acceptable, It’ll become the norm of your workplace culture and everyone will do it.

PRO tip: Complaining and voicing a concern are not the same. If you observe a problem that needs to be addressed, do that by all means. However, do not neglect offering a solution to that problem as well. When your team notices that you are solution-oriented, they’ll also begin to offer solutions when they uncover problems.

Quit ignoring problems

Ignorance in the workplace is not bliss because it leads to major performance consequences. In order to lead an effective team, you must make it a priority to address/resolve problems that impact your employees. Addressing problems will allow your employees to feel heard and important as you’re resolving issues that affect them.

PRO tip: You won’t know what problems your employees are facing by your own observations alone. Take the time to get feedback from your team, collectively and individually, to address the correct problems.

Quit avoiding difficult conversations

There are countless conversations that leaders dread having with employees but when necessary, they must happen nonetheless. Let’s say that you’ve noticed that an employee has made several documentation mistakes over the past few weeks when taking phone orders from customers. If you procrastinate having a conversation about this, a few things will happen. 1) incorrect data will be reported, 2) there will be multiple errors with customer orders, and 3) the employee isn’t given a fair chance to correct the issue. Have the conversation. It may be hard, but the chain reaction of avoiding it will be worse.

Quit doing things your way

The days of the “my way or the highway” leadership style have long gone; especially if you want to retain highly talented and skilled employees. Your employees have come from several walks of life which allowed them to experience and learn many valuable skills. You don’t have to do everything yourself and (honestly) your way is not always the best way. Your employees can be a great asset to your team and organization, but only if given the opportunity to share their genius.

Quit undermining your employees

Autonomy motivates employees and allows them to use their decision-making skills. However, there’s no point in encouraging autonomy if you’re going to consistently undermine your employee’s decisions. (I call that selective autonomy: you give it and take it away at your convenience). Trust your employees to make appropriate decisions with their work and responsibilities. Not doing so is very demotivating and may very well push them into the doors of another company that appreciates their sound decision-making skills.

Quit neglecting your team’s needs

If you’re too busy to answer questions, resolve problems and simply be available for your team, kindly start directing them to other job openings. Why? Because they’ll start making job searching a priority since they clearly aren’t a priority to you. Never become too busy for your employees. Have conversations about each their needs and make tending to those needs a (non-negotiable) part of your daily leadership practices.

Quit underutilizing your team

I can say from experience that not being utilized to your full professional capacity is one of the most discouraging and demotivating feelings as an employee. Don’t let this happen with your team. Find opportunities for your staff to demonstrate their skills. This can easily boost an employee’s sense of belonging and purpose in the workplace.

Quit holding unproductive meetings

Meetings are necessary in many cases but if they aren’t productive, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Your team has a lot do in 8 hours and if the meeting doesn’t provide information or resources to actually help them within a work day, reconsider whether the meeting needs to happen. If it doesn’t need to happen, invest that time into engaging with your team in a more meaningful way.

PRO tip: Provide a meeting agenda to your employees a few days prior to the meeting and allow them to make suggestions on the topics. An agenda helps provide focus and eliminates the scattered thoughts once everyone is gathered. Dedicate time in the meeting for employee feedback and please respect everyone’s time. Ensure that the meeting does not go over the intended and scheduled timeframe.

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