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Submitted by wendii on


In our newsletter this week, we asked about terrible guidance you've heard - the stuff that professionally makes you go 'oh NO !'.

Tell us about it here!

pwalker73's picture

I was getting indications that the Board wasn't supporting all I did. I was on all succession plans as 'next in line' but to little avail. So, I asked for feedback from the Directors that I did not report to...

The Finance Director, said..."you're young, my best advice is to get older"

Then, my own Director, when faced with this (and given an opportunity to make good) said, "you're a great nuts & bolts manager, keep doing what it is you are doing and, in a few years....."  Excuse me if I drifted in my attention.

I flagged to the organisation that I was 'running out of role models', one smart HR Director offered me a move to another market and the business I joined was best in class for 2 years after..

Every day I am working on this age thing and as for the nuts & bolts......

AllanD's picture

I recently received this article in one of my regular emails and couldn’t resist reading it. Fortunately, there is a lot of MT quality advice in there.  ‘Develop every employee’ (delegation and coaching,) ‘Deal with problems immediately’ (feedback should be like breathing,) ‘Serve others, not yourself’ (subordinate management / internal relationships,) and even ‘Always remember where you came from’ (which equates to a Delta file.)

But when it tried to make a case for Rescue your WORST employee, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
“Before you remove your weak link from the chain, put your full effort into trying to rescue that person instead.” Ok, I can understand that. If you haven’t already done so, listen to the ‘How to fire someone’ cast.
But when it was followed up with “Your remarkable employees don’t need a lot of your time.” I knew that they were on the wrong track. Are you for real? (PLEASE listen to the coaching dilemma cast.)
The article is closed out with “And occasionally an employee will succeed” Wow, those are odds that I don’t want to put against my relationship with my 30 directs.
9 months ago I took the ‘how to fire someone’  guidance as literally as is possible and  I embarked on a journey to bring an employee up to a base line standard. In the end I had to sit down with him and say “I think that you should pursue other career opportunities.” I look back now and realise that that I did not acknowledge his inability to achieve results and his ‘tearing down the team’ behaviour. Both of which should have been warning signs to me.
If I had spent just half of the time I waisted with my top performers instead, my team would be even stronger than they currently are.
PLEASE, revisit the ‘Coaching dilemma’ casts and save yourselves the time that I squandered.

irawing's picture
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I was advised by one of my previous managers to say "no" more; this was several years back, immediately after I'd been promoted into a more sr. analyst role.  Her intent here was for me to pull back on accepting new work since I wasn't managing my time effectively, but I took her far too literally.  Looking back, I see what she was trying to say... I took on too much work and then under delivered, sometimes to the point of being unable to do the basic parts of my analyst role effectively.  At that point in my development (and occasionally today!) my tendency was to take what I was told at face value. 

I still work with that manager from time to time and we get a good chuckle out of that situation, and my interpretation of her words.  At the least, we both learned something valuable about how to deliver a message and how to interpret it!

LBennett's picture

When I worked for the Air Force (more than 20 years ago now), in order to be promoted you had to get a good score on a Professional Skills assessment. If the score wasn't at least 85, you weren't eligible for promotion. One individual on my team got an 88. My supervisor wanted me to just copy my co-workers answers rather than completing the assessment on my own. When I told him I'd rather complete the assessment on my own, I was "counseled" for having too much ethics.

In the end, my score was 97 (out of 100). I've always wondered what my boss would have gotten had he completed the assessment honestly.

MattCain's picture
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I was recently advised by my boss that, based on my unique position within the company, I could demand basically whatever I wanted in terms of compensation and probably get it. She went on to say that there wasn't anyone else in the company who was available and could succeed in my role. All this after a good but not great review.

Would you take that bait?

AppleJack's picture
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Just before I graduated college years ago, the Career Services person spoke to our class about  how to write our resume. They gave us a list of "good words" to use, one of which was "Medicated". Now this particular college did not have a medical or nursing school. For the life of me I still can't figure out any circumstance under which anyone (aside from a medical professional and even then I question it) would want to use the word "medicated" on their resume.

Still thinking about all the other bad advice out there, last week I could have probably linked to a half-dozen articles; but now that we've been given this "challenge" I can't remember a single one...

jbancroftconnors's picture

I regularily attend a local job search breakfast for project managers. I'm employed and I go to help out others. This often sees me referring to Manager Tools content. I also end up hearing a lot of 'advice' from job seakers to other job seakers.

In regards to LinkedIn and keeping it up to date: "I find you can go up to three months before you really need to update your last jobs dates. This gives you a little more buffer where it looks like you are still employed. Might get you the call from the recruiter."  Uh, no....

In regards to resumes: "You have to make sure its formatted so the computer can read it." I format it so the hiring manager can read it.

LinkedIn Photos: "I don't want people to see how old I am." Then don't post a picture at all. Don't use your 20 year old headshot.


hubers11's picture
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A recent article came to my attention that I cannot possible regard as good advice.  In it a hiring manager lays out the reasons why a thank you e-mail is better than a handwritten note.  Some of the reasoning is that there is a delay in the mail and that the note might not get to the hiring manager. 

There are three reasons that this strikes me as bad advice. 

First, a delay can be to ones advantage.  In my job search I am talking with very busy folks.  I know that it is sincere when they offer to help and make a few introductions for me.  I also know it is not their highest priority.  In a recent example it took three weeks to bear fruit and a handwritten note was one way to stay top of mind.  An immediate e-mail, while appreciated, gets read and filtered and there is a distinct possibly that no action is taken.  The delay of a handwritten note puts you back on the to-do list as they open it.

Second, to think that a note sent to the address on a business card will not get there is absurd.  Recently I sent a thank you note to a hiring manager at GE and they got it.  In fact, the next time I saw the hiring manager she thanked me for the note and told me that it is hanging in her office.  She also mentioned how rare the handwritten note has become.  If one receives a business card and can write legibly there is near certainty that the addressee will get your note. 

Finally, everyone likes getting something in the mail even technophiles.  If memory serves, Mark has a thank you note or two hanging in his office based on some comments he made in a podcast or two. 


mcabelb's picture

A mentor of mine advised me to go around my boss to talk with his boss about problems that I was having with my boss.  The Sr. boss listened and seemed empathetic at the time.  Of course, the first thing she did after I shared my concerns about my boss (her direct) was go right back to my boss and tell him everything.  I've only done this once and will NEVER do it again.

altadel's picture
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"Your remarkable employees don’t need a lot of your time; they’re remarkable because they already have these qualities. If you’re lucky, you can get a few percentage points of extra performance from them. But a struggling employee has tons of upside; rescue him and you make a tremendous difference."

My take: a few percent of someone ten times better than the struggler is better than a 20% increase in performance from a struggler.

Scott Delinger

DiSC: 5137

GlennR's picture

In my organization all employees must be effective communicators. In the interview I seek to discover if the applicant can listen to a question and respond in such a way that it demonstrates he or she was listening to me, then was able to put together an effective response. (Note, this does not mean necessarily that there is a correct answer. It's the ability to listen and respond that I look for. BTW, I do not penalize for nervousness.)

Similarly, I want to see evidence of effective written communication. A thank you email sent the same day followed by a hand-written thank you received several days later gives me two examples of that. Most people don't follow with a hand written thank you because they consider the email sufficient; an applicant doing both demonstrates that she really wants the job and that she's willing to take the extra time. If both communications are well written, I now have two pieces of evidence compared to her competition, many of whom won't even send one.

How long does it take you to write a hand-written note? Ten minutes, perhaps? Less? Yet it could be the key difference that helps you stand out from the crowd.

The only negative here is poor grammar or poor writing. Avoid that and you should have a positive ROI.

Do both.






AppleJack's picture
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From "let employers find you, with resume bedazzler"

brian_t_watkins's picture
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Probably the worst advice was after a decision had been made to fire an employee. The reason isn't relevant. This employee had many years of service to the company - it was the first time as a manager I had to fire someone. I asked for some suggestions from our head of HR. His first comment was "he is a remote employee, instead of doing it in person, just schedule a phone call". When I questioned him, he said "people are used to it today and it will save you time and money".

Fortunately, another senior executive was in the room and said "if you plan on doing this, get on a plane."

dmb41carter36's picture

"Just keep the noise down". Noise in this case being sales people screaming about late orders. My boss did not care a lick about the real root causes of the  problems and potential solutions, just worried about getting his rear end fried on a daily basis.

HJanikula's picture

Is it possible the list had a typo?  If you remove the "c" from "medicated" you end  up with "mediated"--which strikes me as a much more positive characteristic.


HJanikula's picture

Is it possible the list had a typo?  If you remove the "c" from "medicated" you end  up with "mediated"--which strikes me as a much more positive characteristic.


HJanikula's picture

I put this is the wrong place, and can't seem to delete it.  First post :(