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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teflon Man as a nickname is not a complement

If these are hanging on your door, consider seeking help!

People use a wide range of styles of managing their businesses.  The styles often reflect the personality and previous experiences of the individual.  Some people are true leaders and can attract a team that will follow them anywhere.  They are confident, coach their team, help them achieve goals, and share the glory of a success.  Good managers have learned that “Fixing the problem, not the blame” works well and makes everyone happier. Then there are those managers that have not learned that “Freaking out is not a management style.” As problems occur, they attach blame to their subordinates.  They never accept responsibility.  Since nothing ever sticks to them, they get the nickname “Teflon Man.”

Managing people in a leadership manner requires understanding the limits of individual abilities.  Pressing employees to work harder and faster is OK to a point!  When the pressure causes an employee to exceed his or her limits, mistakes become more frequent resulting in missed milestones or wasted money.  Sometimes the errors can be catastrophic.  Recognition of the error is easy; the problem escalates when the manager insists on blaming others for the error.  The Teflon Man always takes the stance that the error is never their fault.  They pass judgment and tell senior management the employee was at fault.  They see the fix for the problem as disciplining or removing the employee.

Employees do make mistakes!  If you hire well, trust and help the employees improve their abilities.  Coaching the employee and helping them become better should be one of a leader’s objectives.  Having a well-trained and confident team that works without fear is a blessing.  They will try harder and accept responsibility for mistakes they make.  They will offer more ideas and contribute more as team members when they are not concerned with continual negative feedback.

Teflon coated people are promoted because they never make mistakes: “their team makes them!”  Management that does not recognize this behavior fosters the activity and enhances the discontent of the employees.  The employees will always be concerned for receiving blame when they were not fully responsible.  Making errors in this environment may cause one to try to hide the problem rather than fix it. 

Taking risks is very much part of building a startup.  Working faster and harder is an important part of building a successful business.  Combining the risks with the speed can lead to errors.  There is often a shared responsibility for the problems.  Development of a successful company arises when successful problem solving takes place and errors are rapidly fixed.  Getting input from everyone and having them work without fear facilitates better solutions.

If you are the Teflon Man, try changing to become a leader.  Coach your team and help them become the best they can be.  Teach them there is no reason to fear you or making mistakes.  Seek solutions that resolve problems and encourage the team to be part of the solutions.  You may find that the business environment leads to more creativity, successes, and enjoyment among all that work there.