Day 1, your wellness hires are excited and enthusiastic. Six months later, resentful and frustrated, already checking out. Why? Your daily interactions with employees are chipping away at their energy and morale.
The bottom line: you’re unintentionally undermining and demotivating perfectly capable employees.
Remember this article on non-cash rewards? Even those won’t do any good if you make these mistakes:
1. Obvious omissions
You’re publicly thanking several folks for their work on the new yoga studio location. You mention the three people here in Lexington, but you miss the project manager who works offsite.
2. Threats to employees
No, not physical threats, but sentences that start with “You people better…” or “You people just need to….”.
Literally no one appreciates communication that’s worded like a threat. Plus, the implicit suggestion is that folks aren’t giving their all. That’s highly offensive to responsible and capable employees.
3. Non-selective fussing
Two folks in Membership Services keep coming in late, so you read the riot act to your entire management team and have your HR manager send out a company-wide policy memo.
4. Riding roughshod
Your diabetes self-care director has said again and again that she hates being assigned to evaluate marketing tools. But you keep doing it because she’s got the technical skills and it’d be a hassle for you to develop someone else to do it.
Your seasoned sales reps have consistently demonstrated good judgment in handling prospects. But you still question their decisions—only to routinely end the conversations by saying “OK, go ahead” when it becomes clear that, yet again, they’ve behaved rationally.
6. Running late
You are predictably late for all or nearly all of your meetings when you are the most senior person invited.
7. Ending meetings on time
You without fail end meetings on time—but ONLY when YOU have another appointment. You’re wilfully blind to the work and personal schedule commitments of others in the meeting.
8. Cancelling one-on-ones
You often or even routinely cancel and reschedule regular one-on-one meetings with your individual team members.
9. Not responding to voice mails or emails
You rarely reply at all to texts, voice mails and emails from your direct reports. If they can’t grab you live in the parking lot, hallway or restroom, they’re out of luck.
10. Dodging decisions
When employees need a decision, you consistently stall and give them more questions to answer, items to research, vendors to consider, justifications for delaying a key meeting, and so on. In your mind, you always have good reasons for these additional requirements even though no one has identified them as important.
11. Cancelling and rescheduling a performance review
You repeatedly reschedule employees’ annual performance reviews.
12. Cancelling and rescheduling a salary or compensation discussion
You repeatedly reschedule a planned salary or compensation discussion.
13. Trivial recognition for massive accomplishments
An employee works extreme overtime for four months and you give him a $25 gift card or a pair of movie tickets. It would be better to skip the tangible gift entirely and just shake his hand.
14. Black hole
Employees complete a major assignment that appeared to be very important. No visible results ever appear and nothing is ever heard about it again.
15. Only your time is important
You constantly run late and force everyone else to adjust to that schedule by “asking” employees to stick around and wait for you. In your mind, you always have good reasons for your lateness.
16. Tolerating poor performers
One of your weight loss coaches is notorious for dropping the ball. You know they’re a problem, and you’ve talked to them. The situation has not improved. Rather than terminating them, you let them continue to perform at a low level, assign work they should be doing to others, or simply take advantage of the fact that good people can’t stand to watch someone else do a lousy job and pitch in without being asked.
An employee puts in a strong effort on a project. You’re not happy with the results, so you vent—often in front of the project group—although the employee has done everything possible within the constraints that the company or external factors placed on his effort.
18. You don’t really do what you say you’ll do
Your employees can’t count on what you say, and they know it.
19. Shooting the messenger
Your marketing manager tells you that Google Ads conversions on your New Year’s healthy lifestyle promotion are the worst they’ve been in five years. You give the bearer of bad news hell, and rail about all the things that led to this point, instead of saying “Thank you, I really appreciate your telling me about this situation so we can figure out the best next step.”
20. Marking your territory
I’ve seen three levels of management ALL insist on reviewing a routine corporate wellness sales presentation by a top-performing employee. Every one of them had to mark it up and coach on strategy—and I kid you not, every comment was trivial. A couple of these folks had never even held a sales job or given a sales presentation.
Reminded me of dogs marking their territory, and it highly irritated their valuable employee. Even worse, it slowed down the sales process!
21. Assuming you know more
You assume that because you’re a manager, you know more about your subordinates’ jobs than they do. For example, you give one of your most seasoned, experienced nutritionists the highest possible performance rating. Her track record is sterling.
Yet you always pepper her with advice and suggestions on how to do her job. Hold your tongue and ask yourself: Is it REALLY likely that she doesn’t know this already? In fact, isn’t it quite possible that SHE knows more on this topic than YOU do?
22. Undermining supervisors
You routinely bypass your employee and communicate information or decisions directly to their subordinates.
23. Soliciting feedback
You ask for feedback—suggestion boxes, employee surveys, lunch meetings—but you never follow through or act on the recommendations and ideas.
24. Resource allocation
Your front desk staff is struggling to get work done on a slow, underpowered seven-year old laptop when a new one would make a huge difference. You refuse to spend money on the laptop but you always stay at expensive hotels when you travel on business (and believe us, every single person in your business knows it). Closely related: there’s always room in the budget for sexy new cardio and weight equipment, but the employee break room has smelled like old tennis shoes for three years because you won’t spend the money on better air filtration.
25. Breaking your word
For example, you agree to a flexible work schedule for health coaches, personal trainers and dietitians. Then you routinely violate the agreement by “asking” employees to make exceptions.
26. Challenging employee judgment
You challenge otherwise trusted and capable employees with clearly skeptical “Doubting Thomas” questions like “Why are you working on THAT?”
They give a perfectly sensible answer—and privately, they furiously resent the strong suggestion that they are idiots with poor judgment. They wonder sarcastically why, if they’re such screwups, they’re trusted to do anything at all.
27. Helloooo? Anyone home?
Very closely related to #26: You slink off to your office when they respond by saying “Well, I’ve updated you on that project in my required written status report for the past three weeks.”