Over the past couple of weeks I have interacted with people who work for small business owners who aren’t such great bosses. In fact, they are downright angry and mean. I can’t help wondering what they are hoping to accomplish. Yelling at people, demeaning them, using nasty language – none of these are leadership tactics, nor are they effective.
You don’t get people to perform at their best when you spend your time beating them down. Fear is not a motivator. This behavior isn’t something that is learned in leadership training courses. It comes from one of a couple of places – insecurity, fear or mistrust. I submit that you can’t be successful if you operate from any of these platforms.
As a manager or business owner, ask yourself a couple of key questions:
1. What do you expect from your employees? Individually and collectively?
2. What resources do they need from you in order to meet or exceed those expectations?
3. What are the consequences – good and bad – of meeting, exceeding or missing the expectations?
4. How well have you communicated #1-3 to your employees?
5. How well have you maintained #3 – followed through with consequences?
When you move away from insecurity, fear or mistrust and just answer those questions, you take the emotion out of the business, and therefore out of your behavior. Clear and consistent communication is key to business success. I should add that unemotional communication is critical. When you want people to accomplish something, you have to give them the tools and resources they need. One of those is encouragement. Another is support. And the most important is believing in them.
If you are insecure or fearful, keep it to yourself. It’s not your employees’ problem, and taking it out on them is only going to make things worse. You’re setting yourself up for failure. And you run the real risk that the good employees will leave. They know they don’t have to be treated that way. You’ll be left with no one, or the less- than-stellar performers. Not much of a strategy for success, is it?
If you don’t trust your employees to do their jobs, why did you hire them? I mean it! Hiring right is the first step. When you know the answer to #1 above you can set out to find people who can meet those expectations. You can’t hire just anyone. You have to hire the right people.
The next step is reminding yourself of your goals and vision – and that communication is critically important to achieving them. A couple of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” apply to this very topic. The first is to “Be Proactive.” This is where you choose not to be angry. You choose how you are going to communicate, based on what outcome you wish to achieve. The next is “Begin With the End in Mind.” Keep your goals and vision top of mind. Before you say or do anything, ask yourself if what you are about to say or do will help you achieve your goal. If not, don’t do it!
Lastly, “Think Win-Win.” This speaks to understanding that when your employees are successful, you are successful. You want to be sure your people have the tools and resources they need to be successful. When you are communicating in a positive, empowering way, you are helping your employees succeed. If you can’t find a way to treat people with respect and encouragement, hire a manager to handle the staff. That’s being proactive and solving a problem. Don’t let your behavior destroy your company.
When we look at leadership this way we can see that anger has no place; it plays no role in leading your employees toward success – theirs or yours. You know those companies I mentioned at the beginning of this article? The good employees left to find a better experience someplace else. The companies were left scrambling to survive. All because the “leadership” was angry.