HR Blog

My Number 1 Rule for Managers: Don’t be a Jerk

07/01/2019 | Dee Yingst

If you can’t be a decent human being, then management probably isn’t for you.

It’s everywhere – different versions of how to be a good manager (or leader, depending on whose blog you’re reading).  It seems everyone has an opinion on the topic. I really think there’s one big rule under which everything else falls:  Don’t be a Jerk.

Here are a few pointers on how to not be a jerk.  

Let them know you’re glad they’re here. Would you really want to be someplace every day where you feel unwelcome? Of course not. No one wants to come to work to be treated like they don’t matter, so make sure your staff knows that it matters that they came to work today. It doesn’t mean you have to throw them a ticker-tape parade every day. It’s as simple as saying ‘good morning’ or ‘thank you’ or asking if they had a good weekend. It’s not rocket science, it’s called being a decent human being.

Don’t expect more from them than you’re willing to give of yourself. Don’t growl at your staff about the need to stay late while the most frequent sight in your department is the back of your head as you’re leaving at your regular time.

If they’re not meeting your expectation in a particular task, tell them before their performance review. There is nothing productive about waiting an entire year (or whatever your time frame is) and then zapping someone. Oh, and, when you tell them, be sure you have a conversation not a monologue. Explain what needs to happen and ask if there’s something you can do to help.

Be a leader who keeps your word. Your people need to trust you – treat that trust as sacred. There will be times, as a manager, when you simply cannot answer a staff member’s question. In those instances show them respect by telling them upfront that you can’t answer – don’t just making something up. I always tell people I may not always give you the answer you want, but I will always treat you with respect. Part of respecting someone is being honest with them.

In the midst of all this remember: you’re only human. You’ll make mistakes – what matters more than the mistake is what you do next. Be sure to apologize and find ways to keep it from happening again. Be genuine and stay humble.