Bruce Tulgan

Why do most managers fail to spend enough time attending to the basics of managing people? When I ask them why, they almost always give me some variant of the same reasons - I call them the top seven management myths in today's workplace.

1. The Myth of Empowerment:The way to empower people is to leave them alone and let them manage themselves. What is the reality? Almost everybody performs better with more guidance, direction, and support from a more experienced person.

2. The Myth of Fairness:The way to be fair is to treat everybody the same. What is the reality? What's truly fair is doing more for some people and less for others, based on what they deserve - based on their performance.

3. The Myth of the Nice Guy:The only way to be strong is to act like a jerk, but I want to be a "nice guy." What is the reality? Real "nice guy" managers do what it takes to help employees succeed so those employees can deliver great service for customers and earn more rewards for themselves.

4. The Myth of the Difficult Conversation:Being hands-off is the way to avoid confrontations with employees. What is the reality? Being a weak manager makes these confrontations inevitable, whereas being a strong manager means these confrontations rarely occur, and when they do happen they are not so painful after all.

5. The Myth of Red Tape:Managers are prevented from being strong because there are so many factors beyond their control - red tape, corporate culture, senior management, limited resources. What is the reality? Focusing on the many factors THAT ARE within your control is the way to make yourself stronger. Meanwhile, learn the rules and red tape so you learn how to work within and around them (another way to increase your strength).

6. The Myth of the Natural Leader:I am not "good at" managing. What is the reality? The best managers are people - natural or not - who learn proven techniques, practice those techniques diligently until they become skills, and continue practicing them until they become habits.

7. The Myth of Time:There isn't enough time to manage people. What is the reality? Since your time is so limited, you definitely don't have time to deal with all the things that go wrong when you do not spend enough time upfront managing people.

Publication date:03/19/2007