Are you a leader who leads employees on? Are you giving false hope that the relationship is getting serious, when you know it’s never going anywhere?
Are you being polite and noncommittal instead of upfront and truthful?
You might be a tease if you’re sure an employee isn’t going to get that promotion, big project, pay raise, or [insert their known incentive here] you know they’re expecting, but are too afraid to tell them it’s never going to happen.
Instead, you take the easy route and lead them on for fear of being ‘the bad guy.’
In this past week alone, I’ve had conversations with not one, not two, but THREE different clients who revealed that they worked with someone who was desperately working towards an upcoming opening in management. Yet my clients knew that they were not going to be considered.
Think about that for a moment.
The person wasn’t even going to be considered for the position, let alone GET it.
In each case, the manager was more than happy to have them work extended hours, take on additional responsibilities, and stretch themselves thinner than an Olsen Twin.
They knew full-well that person was working hard to position themselves as the ‘obvious’ choice for the new role, and, in their own mind, they were a shoe-in.
Why else would a manager keep giving them more? Why would a manager come to them when they are stuck, there is a tight deadline, and know that the employee will pull through for them?
Yet, the dirty little secret that you (the manager) are afraid to share is that, even though the individual was doing all of this with the explicit intent to apply and be seriously considered for the new role, you felt they just weren’t suited for it.
Perhaps because of a lack of education, or the absence of a certain skill set. Maybe it’s their lack of experience with the duties of the new role. Or it could be their attitude wouldn’t suit the role… It could a million different reasons.
But the bottom line is, they were never going to get it. And they thought they could.
No amount of tenure, time, or effort was going to make them the right candidate.
So what’s a fearful leader to do?
If you want to build your leadership skills to a level where you are not only respected for making tough decisions and having uncomfortable conversations, but thanked for it, then there is but one thing to do…
Taken straight from the world of dating, you need to quit leading them on.
Just be HONEST.
Have you ever been on a first date and, when the night was coming to an end, you absolutely knew there wouldn’t be a second date?
No one’s fault… just not the right fit.
Do you tell them “Goodnight” and wish them peace, love and happiness in their future endeavours?
Or do you wimp out and tell them that you had a great time and you’d call, only to (intentionally) lose their number.
Why set up such hard workers for a rollercoaster ride of hope, disappointment, and then let down?
It’s no different in the office when one person has higher expectations than another. Rip the band-aid off. Shine the spotlight on the matter.
This is as far as it’s going to go, and you are looking for someone else. It’s not them, it’s the role… Sorry, you just don’t see a future in it.
As you can imagine, communication and setting expectations is key, here.
If you’re acting as an effective and ethical leader, then you need to be upfront with people when they share their aspirations with you.
If you can see that Johnny doesn’t have the ability to succeed in a particular role, then tell him when he clearly expresses interest.
If Carolyn doesn’t have the relevant education or experience for a large portion of a position, let her know the minute she says she’s got her eye on that job.
(Better yet, you could always help them get the skills or tools needed to be considered for future roles, if circumstances are right for it.)
This way they know what they are up against. They won’t spend months, or years, hopelessly working towards a dead end, under the confusing pretences of their manager.
They will not be lead on by the false hope that the relationship is going in a direction that they want, when in fact you’re courting other applicants on the side. All while accepting their attention, dedication, and commitment to the partnership.
Be the leader who is known for telling the truth, is transparent about where things are going, and has the heart to be upfront with their employees. Being a tease might get you liked in the short term, but being a leader will get you respected.