After all, have you heard the statement “you don't quit your job, you quit your boss”. This means that a large portion of the power to have, or not have a positive and happy work environment lays squarely on the shoulders of how you treat your employees. More specifically, how you communicate with them. Check out some of my other posts on how to provide feedback that works.
Here, lets stick with the theme. How we talk and communicate. Below are some of the most common pitfalls and some tips to avoid them.
The storm has entered the room -
If you have not seen the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” or read the book of the same title I will help paint a picture. If your employees are giving each other a heads up that you are approaching or about to enter the room you have created an environment of fear. There is nothing wrong with high expectations, so long as they are reasonable and your team understand WHY they are set so high, your team wants to win too. We have all had that manager at some point, we hope and pray that they will not call on us for something “Dave, what are your current projections for Qtr 3 losses?”.
Hail the Dictator -
If you talk at your employees but do not take the time to listen to them, if you do not allow them to ask questions, you may have killed their passion, or are at risk of doing so. Even if their question seems silly to you, it is not to them. I have literally observed teams of 20-30 individuals completely turn on their supervisor due to flippant non answers “how do you not know this?” or “I am not here to teach you” or “If you want me to treat you like children then I will”. As a leader you cannot be everywhere at all times, you need your team to communicate to you the critical information in order to make sound decisions that effect everyone. Remember that empowerment is fuel for an employees soul, their satisfaction with you is directly effected by how much rope you give them.
Walk like a soldier -
Why do soldiers walk so stiff? to demonstrate command and control. Your employees are not soldiers so why would you walk that way? There is a reason why when I speak publicly I REFUSE to speak from behind a podium, it is too formal, too stiff and structured. Confession, when I see the President of the United States speak I spend a lot of time focused on his beautiful seal mounted on the front of the podium. Then my squirrel brain wonders “what’s he got inside? water? papers?” you can see my point. So don’t walk like you are standing behind a barrier.
Helicopter or Hyper Delegator -
Have you ever had a manager that tells you in detail how to do something that is a basic part of your job? I am sure you have felt the annoyance of being told in detail how to do something you already know. This tells me that the manager has not made themselves aware of your knowledge base, which is their responsibility. Be careful of this one, because what I call “hyper delegation” or “helicopter delegator” can kill the mood of the room of your employees immediately, job satisfaction literally melts away when employees feel they are not trusted to do their job. Delegation on it’s own is an art, in fact many books have been written on this single subject.
Some obvious, or maybe not so obvious Final Tips -
It may sound like common knowledge, but believe it or not you cannot yell at your employees in a derogatory manner or call them names. This can be far reaching insults to even subtle jabs. One example is a manager who consistently reminds their new employees that they are, well “new”. Trust me, your employee knows that they are new. Now, there is something to be said for being a humble new employee, this proves good follower-ship. Just be careful labelling your new teammates as it can be felt as demeaning, putting a box around their previous experience or sending the message that “we hear you but your voice doesn’t count… yet”.
As I do often when I self evaluate, I ask myself if I am guilty of any of the above, are you?