Category Archives: Management
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.
In their relationships with their bosses, most employees keep it strictly professional, new research finds.
A study from the staffing firm Accountemps revealed that 61 percent of workers said they while they work well with their bosses and have mutual respect for one another, they wouldn’t consider themselves friends outside of the office. Just 23 percent of the workers surveyed said they are friends with their managers.
A small group of workers said not only are they not friends, but they barely have any connection with their bosses. The research found that 13 percent described their relationships as distant, with 3 percent saying they have no relationship at all.
“The employee-manager relationship is a two-way street, and both parties play a role in the dynamic,” Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps, said in a statement. “The best relationships are built on strong communication combined with mutual trust and respect.”
Overall, 64 percent of workers in the survey said they are generally happy with their current bosses. Just 8 percent of those surveyed said they are totally dissatisfied with the person they work for.
Despite the good vibes most workers said they have with their bosses, managers could improve these relationships even more, survey respondents said. Specifically, 37 percent of employees said they want better communication from their managers, with 31 percent saying they want their supervisors to recognize them more for their efforts. Other areas employees would like to see their bosses work on include helping the workers progress in their careers, listening, standing up for them in difficult situations and promoting work-life balance, the research showed.
The study discovered that most workers recognize how hard it is to be in charge and would rather not deal with that stress and the added responsibilities. Nearly 70 percent of the employees surveyed said they don’t aspire their bosses’ jobs.
“Managers can sometimes get a bad rap, but in reality, most professionals understand that the job is tough and complex and may not be for everyone,” Driscoll said. “The challenge for many bosses today isn’t just identifying a successor, but convincing that professional to step up to the challenge.”
Accountemps offered several tips to both bosses and employees for strengthening their relationships:
Manager: Set clear expectations for employees and create an environment where they feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns. It is important to remember that in order to be a good communicator, you need to be a good listener.
Employee: Ask your boss for clarification if you don’t know what they expect from you, and be open to constructive feedback. Also, take advantage of any professional development opportunities that can boost your communication skills.
Manager: Spend time creating a career-path plan for each of your employees. Go over the plan with them and highlight specific milestones they need to reach in order to stay on their desired track. Let your employees know how you and the company will help them reach those milestones.
Employees: Don’t be afraid to initiate career-path discussions with your boss. Find out where you need to improve in order to reach your goals.
Manager: To keep your employees happy and eager to stay with your organization, you need to show your gratitude for a job well done. Don’t just let them know how happy you are with their performance; be sure to announce their accomplishments to the rest of your team, too.
Employees: Keep your manager apprised of all of the work you’re doing and what you have achieved. Also, don’t just wait for praise to come your way. Compliment others when you see them doing a good job.
Manager: See what types of flexible scheduling you can offer your employees. In addition, see if there are any on-site perks, such as gyms and free meals, that will help employees achieve the work-life balance they strive for.
Employees: Don’t hesitate to tell your boss when you feel overworked. Many managers will find ways to take a little bit off your plate.
As a business owner or manager, it’s important to practice what you preach. If you require employees to be available 24/7 while you’re MIA, or you’re constantly texting on the job while you prohibit employees from using their phones, for example, your hypocritical behavior is sending the wrong message to employees, and they may resent you for it.
Researchers from the University of Missouri (MU) looked at some of the retail industry’s 15.7 million employees and found that these types of inconsistencies in corporate policies and managerial behavior — “corporate hypocrisy,” as they call it — often decimates employee morale and, in turn, leaves a negative impression on customers.
“When [frontline retail employees] experience corporate hypocrisy, they have some visceral feelings,” said Saheli Goswami, one of the researchers and a doctoral student in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. “These impressions have a high chance of being translated from employees to the customers as the retail employees experience corporate hypocrisy,” Goswami told Business News Daily.
Over time, unchecked corporate hypocrisy could lead to fewer sales, she added.
Goswami and Jung Ha-Brookshire, an associate professor of textile and apparel management and associate dean for research in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, focused their research on the retail industry because they expected to find a higher prevalence of corporate hypocrisy there as they developed and refined their definition.
“[R]etail stores have part-time employees, so the company and manager are more likely to think of them as replaceable,” Ha-Brookshire said. “The problem is that these employees interact with consumers all the time, and when consumers have a negative interaction, they tend to say they don’t like that store or won’t visit that brand anymore.”
Although the retail industry was the focus of this particular study, the researchers said their findings extend across industries. Entrepreneurs and managers should be wary of the impacts of inconsistent behavior and policies on both their employees and customer base in order to avoid lost business, the researchers said.
“Retail employees can easily transfer their impressions to customers,” Goswami said. “But in any other industry — say, finance — if I see my company, or even immediate supervisor, behaving hypocritically … I have access to share my perceptions beyond consumers. Because of … [websites like] Glassdoor, these perceptions definitely impact other industries.”
Goswami and Ha-Brookshire said future research will include other industries and more thoroughly investigate the effect of corporate hypocrisy on employee turnover and overall productivity. Their initial hypothesis: Corporate hypocrisy is a drag on business across the board.
So, when you’re crafting company policies or just supervising day-to-day workflow, it’s important to hold yourself to the same standards as your employees. Moreover, make sure any changes, along with the rationale for the shift, are clearly communicated to your employees; the key is to make sure they feel appreciated and kept in the loop.
“Employees, including those who perceive hypocrisy, and the managers need to have a good idea about the corporate culture,” Goswami said. “What is the organization about? What are their goals? What are their strategies? I might not agree with a practice or a goal, but that’s something I [as an employee] need to be aware of, so my expectations are adjusted accordingly.”
Enhancing managerial training beyond a simple task-based focus is also key, the researchers said. Including moral and ethical considerations in both the training and hiring of executives and managers would protect against contradictions that could dampen employee morale and future sales, they said.
What’s the secret to employee happiness and retention? According to new research, it’s as simple as trusting your team members.
A study from PayScale revealed that the more employees feel like their bosses trust them, the happier they are and the less likely they are to look for a new job.
The research found that 72 percent of workers who are able to act and make decisions on their own said they are satisfied in their jobs. Just 26 percent of employees who aren’t able to anything without being told first said they are similarly happy
In addition, just 54 percent of workers who are trusted by their employers said they plan to look for new jobs within the next six months. Conversely, 76 percent of those whose bosses don’t have any confidence in them to act on their own said they expect to pursue new jobs in the coming months.
The research reinforces a number of key organizational issues regarding job satisfaction and loyalty, said Katie Bardaro, vice president of data analytics and lead economist for PayScale.
“In all environments — professional and personal — trust is a required element for the creation of productive relationships,” Bardaro said in a statement. “This report shows manager trust is a crucial ingredient when it comes to ensuring engaged and devoted employees.”
The good news is that nearly 85 percent of U.S. employees said their managers trust them to act and make decisions in some capacity, with just 1 percent saying their bosses do not trust them to do anything at all until they are told what to do.
Experience and salary appear to correlate with how much employees are trusted by their supervisors. The study found that 85 percent of those with annual incomes of more than $160,000 said they have managers who fully trust them, while only 63 percent of workers who make less than $19,000 said they have similar relationships with their bosses.
Not surprisingly, the more experience employees have, the more their supervisors are likely to trust them. Just 59 percent of those who have been working less than two years said their managers trust them, compared to 76 percent of workers with more than 10 years of experience.
The study’s authors said the research has implications for both employees and employers.
“For workers, build that trust with your manager; it’ll lead to happiness at work and potentially a higher salary,” the study’s authors wrote. “Employers, if you want to keep your employees, trust them. They’ll be more likely to be happy in their job and less likely to leave for another one.”
With flu season around the corner, employers are gearing up for an increase in sick calls from employees — but some of those calls might not be truthful.
A CareerBuilder study found that 35 percent of employees called in to work sick this year when they were actually feeling just fine. December is the most popular month for employee sick days, followed by July and January. Not surprisingly, Mondays and Fridays are when workers most frequently take sick time.
Even though many workers have paid-time-off plans that lump vacation and sick time together, nearly 30 percent still feel the need to make up an excuse to take the day off. Employees pretend to be ill for a variety of reasons, and the research revealed the two most popular: because workers just don’t feel like being at work that day or because they need time off to attend a doctor’s appointment.
Other common motives are that employees just want some time relax, need to catch up on their sleep or need time to run personal errands.
While most employers give the benefit of the doubt when employees take sick days, some bosses are a little more skeptical. One-third of the employers surveyed said they have checked in one way or another to see if an employee was telling the truth.
When investigating whether an employee really was ill, the majority of employers either ask for a doctor’s note or call the employee at home to make sure the individual is there and resting. Some, however, take things a bit further. Nearly 20 percent of employers who have checked up on an employee have driven past the worker’s house to make sure the person is there.
Employees should beware that getting caught for calling in sick when they feel fine can have grave consequences. The study found that 22 percent of employers have fired someone for lying about being ill, up from 18 percent in 2014.
Many workers have only themselves to blame for getting caught in such a lie. More than one-third of employees have been busted because they posted something on social media that gave away that they weren’t ill, the study found. Of employers who have used social media to catch someone faking an illness, 27 percent of the bosses have fired those employees. Many employers, however were a little more forgiving, with 55 percent simply reprimanding the employee for the lie.
Although many workers take time off when they aren’t sick, a large chunk still come to work when they really are under the weather. Nearly half of the employees surveyed said they come into work when they’re sick because they can’t afford to miss a day of pay; 60 percent come in because they’re worried the work won’t get done otherwise.
The study was based on surveys of 3,100 full-time workers and more than 2,500 full-time hiring and human resource managers.
Lazy. Entitled. Narcissistic. Unreliable. Delusional. Shallow. These are just a few of the terms that have been used over and over and over again to describe the millennial generation.
This demographic cohort, widely accepted as people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, has been studied and discussed since the term “millennial” was first coined in 1989 by authors Neil Howe and William Strauss. But the surge of research, articles and reports about millennials over the last decade — mostly published by Gen Xers and baby boomers — all seem to draw a lot of the same conclusions: Individuals of this generation are immature, selfish and don’t want to work as hard as their parents and grandparents did.
Of course, the inherent problem with making broad generalizations about a young generation is that they grow up. The “selfish” and “delusional” characteristics millennials may have exhibited can very easily be attributed to the naivety of youth. Now that the youngest millennials are college-aged and the oldest ones are more than a decade into their careers, it might be time to revisit the common wisdom about how to manage and engage with this generation in the workplace.
The evolving millennial mindset
It makes sense that millennial mindsets are shifting as they age and move into new stages of adulthood, said Sherry Dixon, senior vice president of Adecco Staffing USA.
“Like the generations before them, millennials are not exempt from growing up, taking on more responsibilities and experiencing new ambitions,” Dixon said. “For example, they may be focused on getting a promotion, or they may be looking to buy their first home. These types of big life events come with unique hurdles that can bring about self-reflection and understandings that lead to new attitudes in and outside of the workplace.”
It’s also worth noting that this generation grew up in a completely different world and job market than their predecessors, which has tremendously impacted their views and attitudes, said John Covilli, senior vice president the Americas for Dale Carnegie Training.
“We must remember that most millennials were forced to navigate the first stage of their professional careers during the Great Recession of 2007 and 2008, a time when hiring was at an all-time low in the United States,” Covilli told Business News Daily. “That’s a tough way to start a career, but it helped millennials develop a resilience that is crucial in the professional world.”
Covilli believes that as millennials have continued to grow and experience the “real world,” that resilience has shifted into pride and commitment to their work.
“This generation knows their skills, understands the value of work, and embraces the importance of technology to a level that is critical in every profession,” he said.
Why should we still care about millennials?
With the oversaturation of articles and studies about millennials in the workforce, employers may be feeling some fatigue over the suggestions to bend over backwards for this generation. It’s true that you shouldn’t only craft your workplace around millennials: Jason Liu, CEO of sales enablement software company SAVO Group, noted that adjusting management approaches is more about adapting to overall shifts in work style and culture, rather than catering to a generation.
“The way we work today is significantly different than 10 years ago, and 10 years prior to that,” Liu said. “The ideas of open concept offices, working from home and agile transformations across … an entire organization have an effect on how managers and employees work together. As the way we do our work transforms, the way we manage needs to transform as well.”
Although practices like flex hours and remote work policies do align closely with young people’s workplace preferences, it behooves employers to offer these types of perks to compete in today’s increasingly tight job market, said Dixon.
“Taking time to understand what motivates employees at all career stages — and refining management practices accordingly — is key to the success of an organization,” she said. “It would be a mistake to overlook the needs of a group with as much influence as millennials will have in the years to come.”
To Dixon’s point, millennials are the largest living generation in the country, and their numbers will continue to grow in the workforce in the coming years. However, no matter what your company’s demographic makeup is, you do need to pay attention to what your employees want — especially those who currently occupy or will soon be assuming leadership positions.
“A company cannot grow and prosper if it employs management techniques that are outdated and obsolete,” Covilli said. “It’s important to listen to your employees, no matter if they’re 20-years-old or 50-years-old, and embrace their views on how a business is run. A company is only as strong as its employees, so if they’re unhappy with the way your business operates, it’s going to be difficult to motivate them to go the extra mile for you.”
“Millennials bring both desire and skill to working collaboratively, sharing insights, gathering feedback and management will miss out if it fails to harness the power of these skills and interests,” added Liu.
Managing your millennial employees
Smart employers have learned that company policies and management practices need to be flexible enough to adapt to the individual needs of employees. If your workforce is millennial-heavy, here are a few tips to help you connect with this maturing generational group.
Communicate often. One persistent stereotype about millennials is that they crave constant praise and attention. While it’s true that this generation still wants open and frequent communication, it’s not necessarily for the sake of their egos: Dixon said millennials look for this because they are concerned with growth at work.
“They are looking for honest and consistent feedback from their managers to help them improve and develop their skills,” she said. “Employers might consider taking it a step further by laying out a long-term plan for advancement within the company, or offering annual training opportunities.”
Embrace change. In the business world, you have to be ready for change, and that couldn’t be truer than when you’re discussing the millennial generation, said Covilli.
“They live in an era that offers instant gratification, instant information at the touch of a button — that’s not the world that many of us in management positions have lived in before,” he said. “To [retain] a generation that sometimes has a short attention span, it’s important to keep things constantly changing and evolving.”
Foster a strong sense of mission. Richard Stevenson, head of corporate communications for e-commerce software provider ePages.com, noted that many millennials value a shared company mission, and for some, that sense of mission is even more important to work satisfaction than money or material perks.
“It is so important to discuss the mission as work and processes develop and arise, so that younger team members remain motivated and empowered as to how and why their contributions are valuable to the business,” Stevenson said. “It is absolutely worth investing in this process.”
Try to learn from them. Above all else, be open to your millennial workers’ insights and perspectives, said Liu: You just might learn something that can help your business.
“Like every generation, [millennials] bring their own worldview — but the pace of technology advancement is at an unprecedented level, so this is the first generation to also bring such a formative shift in technology usage,” Liu said. “We need to look for how we can learn from the ways millennials naturally relate outside the enterprise, as these are the communication channels and behaviors they will bring with them.”
Being the boss means that, to achieve goals, you not only have to be personally inspired by your job, but you also have to inspire those around you. But what if you’re terrible at it?
Though there are countless good bosses out there, there are an equal number of ineffective leaders. According to the Great Boss Assessment survey by S. Chris Edmonds, founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, only 45 percent of survey respondents say their boss inspires their best efforts each day. Fifty-eight percent say that their boss treats them with trust and respect daily — which means that 42 percent of bosses treat team members with distrust and disrespect.
“Bosses can be bad by micromanaging and not giving employees the autonomy to do great things,” said Bruce Cardenas, chief communications officer at Quest Nutrition. “These can really derail a boss’s standing in the workplace, because it could hinder someone’s drive to do a good job.”
Furthermore, bosses can be bad if they don’t appreciate their employees, Cardenas added. [See Related Story: Are You a True Leader, or Just a Boss?]
Amy Casciotti, vice president of human resources at TechSmith, a software company that provides practical business and academic software products, said that these traits contribute to poor leadership:
Poor communication. It’s very frustrating for employees to have a boss who doesn’t communicate well to provide his workers with clear direction or expectations.
A micromanager. When bosses micromanage, it shows a complete lack of trust in their employees to do their jobs correctly.
Playing favorites. Bosses who play favorites with employees and give preferential treatment make poor leaders.
Not unlike any other team member, bad behavior from the boss can cost the team potential success.
“Having a bad attitude and treating people in an unkind way has a negative effect on success. I think this is one of the most fundamental, basic things in business,” Cardenas said. “It has a toxic effect on the group when bosses should be positive and inspire people daily.”
If you’re realizing that your leadership skills need improvement, worry not: Your career can still be salvaged. Here’s what you can do to become a better boss.
Communication is key
Whether it’s a personal or professional bond, communication is the root of a healthy relationship. Being proactive about and open to communication will improve not only how you lead, but also how you’re received by your team.
“Listen and observe more, talk and multitask less,” said Matt Eventoff, owner of Princeton Public Speaking. “We all give clues as to what is going on internally on a regular basis. Those clues give great insight into how to communicate with your employees more effectively.”
To identify potential issues before they arise, Eventoff suggests that you focus on employees’ nonverbal communication, tonal and pitch changes, and changes in regular communication patterns.
Recognize your employees’ strengths
No man (or woman) should be an island. That said, no one leader has even been successful without help. Good leaders celebrate the strengths and successes of those around them.
“Get good at spotting the strengths of others, including your direct reports, peers and your boss,” Dr. Karissa Thacker, a management psychologist, said. “Research indicates that paying attention to the strengths of others is a critical element in developing others to be more successful, as well as building effective partnering relationships.”
Understand the demographics in your office
Gaining perspective on your multigenerational office can make you a better boss as well. The way your baby boomer employee communicates may not be the same as that of a Gen Xer or millennial. Having a firm grasp on motivations and communication skills can help you as a leader in the long run.
“If you don’t make the time to get to know your staff, you’ll never understand them and be effective with that cohort of your staff. This helps break down those gaps,” Cardenas said.
“Understanding what people value and what motivates them makes it much easier to communicate job expectations, offer the right type of support, or even make changes that will better suit certain teams’ performance,” Casciotti added. “Regardless who you are speaking with, you need to learn how they prefer to communicate, and implement those preferences into the workflow of the organization.”
Remaining self-aware and learning from others will help you in the long run when it comes to your career.
“You need to lean on your subordinates and people that are in a trusted leadership position to learn from them. Not everyone is a natural-born leader, so there is an opportunity to absorb what other leaders at the company are doing successfully in their roles,” Cardenas said.
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.