A while back I wrote a blog entitled, "The Top 5 Mistakes Seasonal Workers Make." I was sledding and building a snowman with my wife today when I realized I needed to tell the other side of the equation. So I thought I would write about mistakes that managers make as well. Now, by managers I really mean ME, or what I have seen personally, but I figure that I cannot be that different from other managers in this industry. Plus, a blog entitled, "The Top 5 Mistakes I Make" just didn't seem like something I would want to publish. My reason for writing this is so that seasonal workers can maybe spot these things developing and address them with employers before they expand into possibly job altering issues.
5. Becoming too friendly with employees -- Hold your horses, I don't mean "friendly" as in dating. Don't go there. What I mean is, there needs to be a separation of work and play. Often it can be difficult for both managers and employees in a seasonal environment to maintain that line. The odds are that you are all living at your workplace in a somewhat remote area where clubs and movie theaters and the like don't exist. Furthermore, managers at these places are usually on the younger, more adventurous side, odds are a few years ago they were seasonal workers as well.
There is nothing wrong with socializing with employees when you are a manager, but when you find yourselves hanging out at the local watering hole a few nights a week, lines get blurred. Manager need to remain impartial and fair for all their employees’ sake. When you hang out too much together, that can be difficult. The answer, you can be friends, but also realize that work is work, and play is play.
4. Using company speak -- Managers live and breathe their properties, some times to an unhealthy level. When you do that you pick up nicknames and acronyms for places and people that become second nature. The problem is that new employees don't have a clue what the heck you are talking about. It confuses them, irritates you when they don't understand, and after a while makes both sides feel kind of stupid.
3. Running out of patience -- Being a manager in the hospitality industry can be nerve racking. You spend all your time trying to make everything just perfect, and then you do it all over again the next day. This means juggling all kinds of people and things at once to deal with the Smith's missing suitcase and the Johnson's dinner requests and the Patel's anniversary champagne and the .....You see what I mean. So when the new employee asks you an honest and fully justified question, some times I, uh, managers can be a little short in their reply. So if you see me this summer, please remind me that Patience is a Virtue.
2. Over communicating -- I spend half my year trying to figure out what to tell people their first week on the job. I sincerely want to get everyone off on the right foot with all the tools they will need to have a wonderful summer, full of friends and lifetime experiences. Sometimes I forget I have 5 months to make those memories come true for a person. The result: Mangers throw so much information at new employees that their eyes go blank, smoke comes from their ears, and they literally call mom for help, asking what did I get myself in to? Communication is the key to any organization, but sometimes managers are guilty of over-communicating. Too much information in too short a time resulting in nothing actually getting learned. Johnny knows very little about a million different things instead of knowing the 3 things that are really important, really well. So if your manager is throwing the book at you on day one, ask them to slow down for both of your sakes.
1. Expecting too much -- This one is really a conglomeration of the above 4 mistakes. I expect a lot out of my employees. I expect them to be excited, to learn, to be knowledgeable, to be prepared, to want to be here. Managers need to remember that new employees need time to learn, time to get it just right, time to make friends, time to not be working, and reasons to keep it going in the tough times. Just as I am inspired by my mentors and managers, I need to make sure I am doing the same for my employees. All too often managers become singularly focused on getting the job done. When that is all you focus on your employees lose their general in a whirling dervish of papers and phone calls and ideas. Managers need to expect from their employees what they expect. A good work environment, a motivational leader, rewards for hard work, and commitment from those around them. Expecting too much is expecting perfect employees when you don't provide as many of those things as possible.
There you go, a glimpse into my mind. Scary. And an admission that I, a manager of seasonal employees, makes mistakes. And a promise that I will try to learn from them.