Monthly Archives: December 2016
Treating employees with dignity and respect has different results for bosses of different races and ethnicities, new research finds.
When white managers treat workers respectfully, those employees tend to work harder and help others more. However, positive treatment by an African-American or Hispanic boss doesn’t have the same impact, according to a study recently published in the Academy of Management Journal.
If minority managers treat staff members politely and with dignity, it doesn’t change the amount of good will and loyalty employees have. The positive treatment doesn’t change what employees believe about how fair their minority bosses are, either.
“Our data indicate that when employees are asked to make assessments of overall fairness, employees who have supervisors from one race make judgments in ways that are inconsistent with employees who have supervisors from another race,” the study’s authors wrote.
The researchers said preconceived stereotypes may be to blame for the different reactions.
“Members of stigmatized groups may unknowingly set themselves up to be the target of stereotyping when they treat others with respect,” the study’s authors wrote. “One stereotype appears particularly relevant: the belief that stigmatized minorities are more deceitful than Caucasians.”
Those deceitful stereotypes can lead employees to believe their minority bosses aren’t being genuine when treating others respectfully, the researchers said.
“When supervisors act rudely or disrespectfully, the recipients of such treatment are likely to assume that supervisors genuinely feel derision toward them, as there is little to be gained socially by acting disrespectfully toward others when such feelings are not sincere,” the study’s authors wrote. “In contrast, supervisors who treat subordinates graciously may have ulterior motives … given that individuals in work settings are known to sometimes mask their true feelings when their roles call for constant displays of respect for others.”
For the study, researchers conducted two experiments. In the first, 165 employees and bosses from a variety of industries were surveyed on respect and fairness. Bosses were asked to rate how respectful they treated their subordinates, while employees were surveyed about how fair they thought their bosses were.
The research discovered that employees with minority bosses perceived less fairness than did their peers who worked for Caucasian bosses, but only when the workers were treated respectfully. The difference was not found when the employees thought their supervisors were disrespectful.
“Even when subordinates perceive that minority supervisors adhere to interpersonal justice rules to the same degree as … Caucasian supervisors … minority supervisors are still rated as less fair … and, in turn, their subordinates are less willing to go above and beyond for them,” the study’s authors wrote.
In a second experiment, the researchers asked 296 business students to solve anagram puzzles that were supposedly graded by students from another university with whom the participants communicated by computer. The supervisory students, who actually didn’t exist, were divided about equally between those with the Caucasian-sounding names of Todd and John, and those with the minority-sounding names of Tyrone and Juan.
There was only one communication from these “supervisors” to the students. One was a respectful, “I want you to know that I’m taking my job of grading your anagrams seriously,” while the other was a rude response of, “My job as a leader is tougher than solving these easy anagrams. Your potential bonus is the last thing on my mind.” The results were similar to those from the first experiment.
The study’s authors said they believe that the stereotype of minority deceitfulness plays a key role in the results. Respectful minority supervisors not only miss out on extra efforts from subordinates that white bosses enjoy, but are also more likely to be undermined by those employees, the authors said.
The researchers suggested that employers take several steps to counteract these biased perceptions. Having supervisors physically located closer to their employees and making sure bosses have frequent one-on-one or small-group meetings with their workers will help make a supervisor’s true characteristics more apparent, the researchers said.
“As another alternative, routines that lead to relationship building … for example, after-hours social activities or outings that involve partners and family members, may allow subordinates to see their supervisors in a different light,” the study’s authors wrote.
The study was authored by Cindy Zapata, an associate professor at Texas A&M University; Andrew Carton, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania; and Joseph Liu, an assistant professor at California State University, Chico.
As your business grows, you will likely find your free time shrinking. You may realize that you can’t handle it all yourself, but letting go of the reins is hard. However, while you’re working on all the daily details, you aren’t able to do the big-scale thinking and planning that could grow your business to the next level.
Solopreneur and business coach Eben Pagan suggested that you should dedicate several hours a week just toward developing the new products and services that can move your business forward. If you don’t have time for that, then it’s time to assign the routine duties elsewhere.
As important as delegation is, however, it doesn’t always come naturally.
“Most managers have never been trained in delegation, and any time you adopt a new behavior, you will feel awkward at first,” wrote Brian Tracy in his book “Delegation & Supervision” (AMACOM, 2013). “However, the more you practice delegation, the easier it becomes.”
Here some of the first steps you can take to build your delegation skills.
Select some low- to mid-level responsibilities that you can clearly define, set deadlines for and explain the procedures for. Think SMART: Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound. Pick duties that have importance, take up your time and cause you stress, but that will not destroy the business if not done excellently the first time. This is a learning phase for your employee. As noted in a blog post on TheRightQuestions.org, “A task can stretch a person or a team … but if you are asking the impossible of someone, it will quickly become de-motivational.”
Match the task with the person
Choose tasks to delegate based on your employee’s skills, preferences and availability. Finding someone eager for more responsibility will make your first experience delegating easier.
“As a leader, you’ll have to learn the subtleties of your teammates. You should know each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, including his or her current and potential range of skills,” Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, wrote in Inc. magazine.
Create clear instructions
Go over the procedures with your employee. “[Some] managers are poor delegators because they just hand over tasks and assume the work will get done. Properly selecting and briefing those to whom you delegate may sound like a hassle, but it’s an investment that will pay back many times over. Agree how the task will be done, discuss a time frame and decide how progress will be measured,” Rhymer Rigby wrote in CGMA Magazine.
Also let the employee know why this task is important. How does it contribute to the success of the company? Finally, define the person’s authority: What can he or she do different? Who can he or she task or approach for information?
Finally, write down specific, detailed instructions for the times you cannot be there.
“There are times when we see something that is so obvious to us, but not to [our employees],” Sterling Jaquith, owner of Heartland Post & Pole, said.
Monitor and follow up
Especially at first, keep track of your subordinate’s progress. Is he or she on schedule for deadlines? Are the results meeting expectations? Check in now and then just to see if the employee has questions. Provide feedback: Where can he or she improve? Praise success.
“Feedback is the most important part of the delegation process, and it works both ways,” DeMer wrote. “If your workers have done well with a task you assigned, let them know by publicly thanking them and offering genuine praise. If they’ve fallen short, don’t be afraid to give them some constructive criticism.”
Take a step back
Give advice and lend authority as needed, but refrain from taking over or outlining exactly how you’d do it unless there is a strict procedure that must be followed. Your employee needs freedom to exercise his or her own creativity. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results. As you grow comfortable delegating one task, take what you’ve learned and apply it to the next task.
“It’s a learning process to let go of that control and have faith in the people around you that they’ve got it,” Danielle McPhail, owner of eSpec Books, said. After 20 years in the publishing business, she started her own small press, with three partners and freelance assistance when needed.
Delegating takes time, especially at the beginning. However, in the long run, doing so means a task will be completely off your plate, and you’ll have a better-qualified employee who may be able to take on additional responsibility. Further, as you gain confidence in your delegation skills, you will in turn create leaders in your business who can delegate to others, resulting in a well-run business that can handle your absences.
Most workers are looking for a little more direction from their employers, new research shows: A study from Gallup discovered that half of all U.S. employees don’t know what’s expected of them at work.
The study’s authors believe that when employees do not have a clear understanding of what’s required of them, they are less engaged at work. Previous research has shown that just one-third of U.S. employees are engaged at work.
While there are 12 elements of employee engagement, the study’s authors suggested that setting clear expectations could be the most “foundational” one.
“Expectations, or a lack thereof, have the power to make or break worker engagement,” the study’s authors wrote. “Even if employees feel energized and motivated, those who lack clear expectations and spend too much time working on the wrong things can’t advance key initiatives to create value for an organization.”
The research revealed that employees of all ages want clear expectations. Across all generations, workers who strongly agree that their boss works with them to set performance goals are nearly eight times more likely to be engaged than those whose bosses don’t help define what their objectives are, the study found.
“All workers, regardless of age or stage in their career, want to know what’s expected of them in the workplace,” the study’s authors wrote. “And the lack of clear expectations can cause anxiety and confusion in workers.”
Gallup offered several tips for setting expectations for your employees:
Work together. It is important for managers to get input and agreement on expectations from employees. The researchers believe this will lead workers to be more invested in their expectations, which will ultimately result in more success.
Be clear. Employees shouldn’t have to guess what their boss is expecting of them. Managers need to fully and clearly explain what they require of their workers.
Set the bar high. Most employees aren’t interested in doing only the minimum amount of work to succeed. Managers can get the most out of their staff by basing expectations on what top performers do.
Personalize it. Set expectations that center around each employee’s strengths. Getting workers focused on using their strongest talents will increase both performance and engagement, according to the researchers.
Previous research has shown that when employees are focused on tasks that best suit their strengths, sales, profit, employee engagement and customer engagement increase, and turnover decreases.
“After zeroing in on the right targets with clear expectations, managers can unleash employees’ greatest performance by focusing on their strengths,” the study’s authors wrote.