Monthly Archives: September 2016

Should You Know If Micromanagement Could Be Killing Your Employees

If you micromanage your employees, you could, quite literally, be working them to death.

Working in a highly demanding job that offers employees little control is associated with a 15.4 percent increase in the likelihood of death, compared with employees in jobs with low demands, according a study that was recently published in the journal Personnel Psychology.

Working in stressful jobs can, however, be beneficial to employees who have a lot of freedom to make their own decisions. The research revealed that working in high- demand jobs that also give employees a large amount of control over what they do and when is associated with a 34 percent decrease in the likelihood of death, compared with low-job demands.

“These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making,” Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, the study’s lead authors and an assistant professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, said in a statement.

Having higher control gives employees in stressful jobs more resources to problem-solve and work through ways to get their work done.

“A stressful job, then, instead of being something debilitating, can be something that’s energizing,” Gonzalez-Mulé said. “You’re able to set your own goals, you’re able to prioritize work. You can go about deciding how you’re going to get it done. That stress then becomes something you enjoy.”

Data in the study was obtained from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which followed more than 10,000 people who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957. They were interviewed at various time intervals over their lives, through 2011, to provide data on educational, occupational and emotional experiences. All participants in the study were employed but near the end of their careers. The researchers used controls for factors such as demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status and affect.

The data also revealed a similar link between micromanaging in stressful jobs and employee weight. The study’s authors found that employees in high-demand jobs with low control were heavier than those in high-demand jobs with high control.

“When you don’t have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff,” Gonzalez-Mulé said. “You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it.”

Overall, the researchers believe the study shows employers shouldn’t worry so much about finding ways to make jobs less stressful. Instead, they think it shows that organizations should focus more on providing employees with more say in how their work gets done.

“You can avoid the negative health consequences if you allow them to set their own goals, set their own schedules, prioritize their decision-making and the like,” Gonzalez-Mulé said.

Since the research examined employees only at the end of their careers, the study’s authors believe it would be beneficial to examine workers earlier in their careers in the future to see if the job demands-control model accurately predicts strain over time.

The study was co-authored by Bethany Cockburn, a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business.

Information About 5 Traits Employees Want In a Boss

There is a big gap in what employees want out of a boss and what they actually get, new research finds.

A study from leadership training provider Dale Carnegie Training revealed that many of the qualities workers deem most important in a manager are the traits supervisors exhibit least often.

Specifically, 84 percent of employees said it is important that managers admit to their mistakes. However, just 51 percent of their supervisors actually do so, the employees said. In addition, while 88 percent of employees said they value bosses who listen to them, just 60 percent of workers said their managers do so.

The research also found that 87 percent of workers said it is important for bosses to show sincere appreciation to their staff. Unfortunately, only 61 percent of employees said they get that from their manager.

Employees also appreciate when their bosses value their work. Although 86 percent of the workers surveyed said this is important to them, however, just 60 percent said their managers exhibit the trait. [See Related Story: Want Better Employee-Boss Relationships? Communication and Recognition Help]

“Employees want leaders who develop themselves and others, making it safe to share their ideas, try new things, make mistakes, learn from them and improve,” the study’s authors wrote.

Overall, the top five qualities that employees said motivate and inspire them the most are:

Encourages improvement: Nearly 80 percent of the employees surveyed said inspiring leaders encourage and help employees improve.
Gives praise and appreciation: Nearly three-quarters of the workers surveyed said great bosses praise and express appreciation for employees’ work.
Recognizes improvement: More than 70 percent of employees said one of the most important traits of a boss is acknowledging when workers’ performance has improved.
Acknowledges own shortfalls before criticizing: The study found that 68 percent of employees are motivated by bosses who, rather than criticizing others, recognize their own shortcomings.
Allow employees to save face: 60 percent of workers said they appreciate a boss who gives them a chance to make up for their errors, instead of embarrassing employees when they have made mistakes.
Making sure bosses give employees the support they need is critical for employers who want to hold on to their top workers. The study found that supportive behavior from a direct supervisor increases employees’ intentions of staying with an employer by 67 percent.

“Employees are more satisfied with their job and more likely to stay when their leaders are honest, trustworthy and true to their beliefs,” Joe Hart, CEO of Dale Carnegie Training, said in a statement. “As the war for talent only gets more competitive, it is critical for leaders to develop positive behaviors that will inspire employees to stay and do their best work.”

Better boss behavior also improves employee job happiness. In all, just 24 percent of the workers surveyed said they are very satisfied in their jobs. However, when supervisors frequently exhibited developmental, interpersonal leadership behaviors, satisfaction increased to 33 percent.

Tips to Keep Employees Engaged During the Holidays

The holiday season is joyful, stressful and exciting for most everyone, especially as employees countdown to Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah.

“I love the holiday spirit and the positivity it brings both to life and work. It brings energy, and energy brings creativity and motivation,” said Andrew Filev, CEO of Wrike, a project management service.

As a manager, it can be fun to join in the excitement, but it can also be challenging to keep everyone on task. Filey noted that ending the year with the completion of a big project or milestone can be especially motivating. He advised planning your final quarter with a big project the team can rally around. Furthermore, it helps if it’s a project that’s going to make your company be more competitive in the following year.

“If the whole team is aligned and excited about ending the year with a celebration and starting the next year strong, it’s going to help them convert the fun holiday spirit into having a great time at work, too,” Filev said.

Filev acknowledges the holiday season comes with more than gift exchanges and large feasts; it can also include families grieving their departed loved ones, and a lot of nostalgia for the past. This is something managers should also keep in mind when engaging office staff.

“It’s important for managers to have compassion and empathy and to acknowledge that the holidays are an emotional season, both with positive energy and also people missing their families, he said. “It may not be ideal that those feelings happen to occur during one of the most important times for businesses, but that’s the reality.”

Keeping engagement high during the holidays
Here are a few ways to keep your team’s momentum going throughout the season and finish out the year strong.

Celebrate successes. This can be as simple as using positive reinforcement, such as thank-you cards, phone calls or a congratulatory email when you see an employee performing well, said Brian Sutter, director of marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies. If the accomplishment is much larger, you can treat the individual or entire team to an impromptu get-together for lunch or even drinks at a local pub. You can also celebrate the holidays by taking the team to a seasonal, festive movie, he said.

Set challenging goals. Goals are a great way to keep your employees and team members on track, said Sutter.

“By setting the bar high but still within reach, everyone will be striving to achieve his or her set of goals,” he said. “Make sure goals are clearly communicated and in writing, so employees can refer back to the list as necessary.”

Oyvind Birkenes, CEO of Airthings, notes his team has “very clear goals, and what I see is that people are even more productive during the holidays to complete the major projects we’ve been working on throughout the year.”

Filev advised acting as a coach, rather than a manager: “Your job isn’t to tell people what to do, it’s to put people in a position to be successful. That means offering support and carrying some of the load yourself.”

Encourage time off. The holidays incorporate travel, family obligations, parties and a need to decompress after a year of working hard.

“I absolutely encourage [employees] to take time off to be with their families during the holiday season. It’s critical to put work aside for some time and recharge the batteries,” Birkenes said. “I always encourage employees to plan holidays well in advance so there is always something to look forward to.”

“In general, make sure people have the flexibility to work around families and holiday needs. If someone needs to leave work to see their kids’ Christmas play at school, be flexible. Families support your business all year. You can be flexible around the holidays,” Filev added.

Keep them in the loop. When employees feel that they are playing an active role in the development and progress of their company, they are less likely to resist authority. Plus, you never know what insightful information they may have to offer that could make a significant impact on your small business. Schedule a short-but-sweet weekly or monthly companywide meeting to keep everyone on the same page, Sutter suggested.

Create an enjoyable atmosphere. By creating an atmosphere of acceptance, camaraderie and unity, your employees will feel more motivated to complete their work, Sutter said; “You’d be surprised at how hardworking one can be when they walk into an office every day and feel welcome.”

Positivity is key, he said — remember, your staff takes cues from you, so be sure the right attitude starts at the top.

“To get the right mood, we do simple things like offering gingerbread cookies by the coffee machine and arranging a Christmas dinner for all employees and their significant others,” Birkenes added. “I [also] always encourage employees to plan holidays well in advance so there is always something to look forward to.”