How to Quickly Demoralize Your Team – and Lose Your Credibility, Too

© apops -
© apops -

Managers, you may not even realize your behavior is having such a demoralizing impact on your team.

These four (4) traps, when they take place repeatedly, cause you to rapidly lose credibility:

1. Micromanage the work. This signals that you do not trust your team members when you do not treat them like professionals. Resist the temptation to double-and triple-check every calculation and formula.

Solution: The higher you get in the organization, the more comfort you must gain letting go of the details. The more work you delegate, the more it frees you up to take on different responsibilities yourself and learn new things.

2. Set unrealistic deadlines and then hold people accountable to them no matter what. This usually means you committed to a date (for whatever reason – it may have even been a good reason) without gathering input from your team members on its’ feasibility. It also means you are unwilling to go back and renegotiate a new date. This makes your team members feel like you do not have their backs.

Solution: Seek a compromise date that still stretches your team while meeting as many of the needs of the requestor as possible. Next time, don’t commit so fast. Involve your team up front.

3. Question the loyalty of your team members. The people who are the closest to the details of getting the work done often have the most insight on where and how process improvements would make the most sense. Many leaders take those suggestions as a personal affront. Some default back to, “We’ve always done it this way.”

Solution: Instead, build your personal resilience to change. Do not take suggestions or recommendations personally. They are rarely intended that way.

4. Provide NO career guidance or advice. As Millennials enter the workforce in record numbers, more and more employees seek their manager’s counsel on how to get promoted or on what their next career move should be.

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Solution: When presented with such a query, be ready! It is NOT the responsibility of HR to build the talent in every business department. Have a point of view on what experiences the employee needs on the job to grow and develop the appropriate skills at this point in his/her career.

Managing a team is not easy. Building credibility with a team takes time.

Losing that credibility, however, can happen very quickly. It will eventually show up on the engagement survey one way or another.

The question is what will you do about it?

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.

Betsy Winkler is Partner at PeopleResults a human capital consultancy focusing on change, organization, talent and communications/new media. She has been working as a business consultant and change leader for 20 years, and previously led the Change Leadership Center of Excellence for PepsiCo.

Contact her at


8 Comments on “How to Quickly Demoralize Your Team – and Lose Your Credibility, Too

  1. Yes x 1000! These are great reminders of how sometimes seemingly “helpful” behaviors, like micromanaging can undermine team performance. They not only don’t feel valued, they also come to expect that you’ll bail them out every time. It sets all up for failure.

  2. Love your observations and perspectives on this Betsy! I’ve seen it go bad for managers so quickly when they forget that their job is to make it EASIER for their team to accomplish their goals. It’s about getting the work done THROUGH other people so setting them up for success in turn sets the manager up for success1

  3. Thanks for reminding us about the traps we can so quickly fall into. Trust and credibility are so critical for leaders. Without the both, it’s impossible to lead.

  4. Great points – particularly regarding Millennials. That issue often comes up in my generational diversity training and consulting work. They want guidance and coaching not lip service.

  5. Many times managers have good intentions, but suffer from poor execution. As a result, the behaviors you listed are often present. Great article!

  6. Interesting article but I believe you missed the first and most important ingredient for successful managers and aspiring leaders: TRUST

    Trust is hard-earned and far too easily lost. A manager is only as good as their word to their employees. I suppose trust is the underlying key in these points- demonstrating my trust they can do the job without micromanaging and questioning their loyalty, but I think might be a stretch. I believe all of this can be mitigated with the HIRING of the right people. Once that is done, and the manager has done a good job of identifying the critical skills and attributes for the position to be filled and finds those in the new hire, then move on. Once they are hired and oriented with the company, move your focus elsewhere and manage or lead. Spoon-feeding and watching every step is NOT management- it is doing.

  7. Betsy, love this article. These little things can erase so many good intentions and great work. Thanks for the reminder to not overlook how we treat our teams.

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