Wednesday, May 8, 2013

10 Signs of a Non-Lean Manager Who Disengages the Workforce

Companies with poor management practices typically have employees who are disengaged. While a disengaged workforce is a symptom of substandard leadership, just what constitutes bad management? Here are a few problematic practices and signs I believe should be axed:

1. Bad Communication
Few things cause employees to tune out faster than a management team that keeps the company's future direction to itself. Successful Lean leaders see the larger picture and will share the vision.

2. Team-Building that Isn't
Fostering a connected team is an important practice, but before implementing group events and activities, be sure members of your team won't feel left out. Getting to know your team members is generally an effective way to build collaboration and a sense of joint purpose.

3. Little or No Training
According to a 2011 report from Accenture, 55% of workers in the U.S. say they are under pressure to develop new skills, but only 21% say their companies have provided training to learn those new skills within the last five years. Training is a lever that changes the rate of improvement you can achieve.

4. Preventing Follow-Through
Most employees like to feel their work has meaning. If they don't get this kind of satisfaction, they lose motivation, according to a number of research studies. One sure way to demean an employee's work is to move them off a project before it's completed. Lean leaders must follow-up on employee ideas.

5. Ruling by Fear
Managers who rule through rigid control, negativity, and a climate of anxiety and fear don’t trust that they can get things done any other way. Of course, it backfires in the end because fearful employees won’t bring up new ideas for fear of being attacked and won’t be honest about problems. Moreover, very few great people with options are going to want to work for a fear-based manager.

6. A Failure to Develop Others
Leaders who are not concerned about helping their direct reports develop and are not seen as coaches or mentors are highly likely to fail. Primarily focused on themselves, they are not concerned about the longer-term success of their employees or their department.

7. Failure to Improve and Learn from Mistakes
Arrogance and complacency combine in the poorest leaders as they rise, causing them to come to the dangerous conclusion that they’ve reached a stage in their careers where development is no longer required. Closely connected to this failing is an inability to learn from mistakes, leaving these unfortunates to repeat the same ones over and over.

8. Failure to Walk the Talk
Saying one thing and doing another is the fastest way to lose the trust of all your colleagues. The worst offenders here also pose a wider threat as dangerous role models — creating the risk that their organizations will degenerate if others behave as they do.

9. Lack of Data
Many managers rely on gut instinct to make important decisions, which often leads to poor results. On the contrary, when managers insist on incorporating facts and evidence, gathered from direct observation at the source they make better choices and their companies benefit. Lean companies however strive to empower their employees to make decisions at all levels through access to data, knowledge of evaluation methods, and defined standard processes.

10. You Always Have Emergencies
Business is sometimes unpredictable. But the fact that things are unpredictable is, well, predictable. As a Lean manager, it's your job to assess the situation and plan in advance. Occasional emergencies are understandable, but constant ones mean that you're not doing what you need to do. Sometimes that involves pushing back against your superiors and protecting your people. It means scheduling according to actual needs, and if you don't have the budget for that it often means changing the definition of need.

Hopefully, your manager or company executives do not exhibit these faults. Perhaps understanding the signs on non-lean leaders can better help us recognize those of Lean leaders. Those managers who truly know Lean understand the benefit comes from developing people to think and improve their own process the more they define the role as influencing or coaching. A Lean leader must be relentless in teaching and expecting learning through actual practice.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare


  1. Hummmm I think I know this guy......

    1. Unfortunately, I think we all have experienced someone like this in our career. Hopefully, this can help us shape better more engaging leaders.

  2. “10 signs to non-learn manager” I read your thoughts it’s very informative. These steps are very helpful to improve workplace environment. As I am a manager. I must follow some rules. Less and bad communication increases your work pressure so never stop communication.