5 Management Myths Nobody Should Believe … But They Do

When you’ve been working for a while, like I have, you will undoubtedly run into almost every type of manager there is. When you’re lucky, you have a fantastic manager you wouldn’t mind working with forever. You know, the ones you will “run through brick walls for” to use an old, but true, cliché. On the other hand, when you’re unlucky, you get the hell beast that makes every day seem like a trip to the insane asylum. You just count the minutes until it’s time to go home. These are typically the managers who believe in the following five management myths.

As a supervisor, motivation is an important part of your job. You need to find a way to get the most from your employees, keeping them on task and always striving for more. But if you subscribe to traditional management myths, you’re probably making false assumptions about what really works to motivate your staff.

Here are some of the most common management myths and alternative approaches that will reap better rewards:

Myth #1: Fear is a good motivator 

Some organizations like to use the Darth Vader school of management philosophy; if you keep employees in constant fear of losing their jobs, they’ll stay hungry and on edge.

The reality: Fear only works occasionally and for a short time. If employees are constantly worried about their position, stress will skyrocket and they’ll become burned out, hurting productivity.

Try this: Instead of threatening, try positive reinforcement. People are much more likely to strive for excellence when they believe their efforts are noticed and recognized.

Myth #2: Some people just refuse to be motivated 

The old school of thought believes that some employees are just lazy and won’t respond to anything, either the carrot or the stick.

The reality: Just like everyone has his or her own hopes and desires, everyone has specific motivators. It’s your job as a manager to discover what drives each member of your staff and use that to push him or her forward.

Try this: Identify what is holding back poor performers, then find out what it will take to get them up to par. The downside of this is that sometimes an employee is just not a good fit for your organization.

Myth #3: People prefer to set their own goals 

Some managers like to take a hands-off approach to their staff, allowing each employee to determine his or her own goals and how they fit in with the overall target.

The reality: While lots of employees do relish a certain amount of freedom in their work, unclear goals and benchmarks can cause unnecessary stress and lead to missed deadlines and poor quality work.

Try this: Work hand-in-hand with your employees to develop goals. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, then involve them in the goal-setting process.

Myth #4: You can systematically apply a motivation system to cover all employees

Some managers believe that one consistent motivation strategy should be sufficient to keep all employees engaged. Consistency allows everyone to know exactly what is expected and what the results of success and failure will be.

The reality: Just like everyone has a different personality, not everyone responds to the same motivators. There’s no guarantee that what works for one employee works for another.

Try this: Take the time to talk to each member of your staff individually. Find out what makes him or her tick, then use this knowledge to push the right motivation buttons.

Myth #5: Money is the best motivator 

In order to reward or encourage employees, some companies simply throw more money at them, assuming this will keep morale high.

The reality: While everyone would like to have more money, more money does not necessarily equal job happiness.

Try this: Very few employees in the history of the world have turned down a pay increase. However, multiple studies show that a good work environment is a better motivator than money.

Managing today’s diverse workforce takes patience, understanding and communication. Also, letting go of things that “you’ve always done” because they worked 10 years ago. Today’s employees are smarter, better informed and getting younger. It’s estimated that by 2030, 75 percent of the workforce will be Millennials or younger. They don’t behave like past generations so you better learn how to lead them and not rely on tired management myths to get you through.

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