By JP George
Managing employees in a modern office is an extremely difficult task. Old-fashioned motivational techniques are rapidly being blended with new age methods that focus on employee well-being and a properly adjusted workplace vibe. Unfortunately, many managers have a difficult time reconciling these two schools of thought — rather than improving employee morale, they distress the mood of the office and suffocate the creativity, passion and drive of their underlings. Here are a few mistakes that bosses make in the workplace, along with related prescriptions for changing the culture of the office and improving employer-employee relations.
One-Upping Employee Ideas
Managers misunderstand this mistake all the time. If an employee comes in with an idea and the manager takes that idea into consideration, the employee understandably feels proud. However, if the boss acknowledges the idea but quickly moves past it into a different solution, the employee may not see the session as productive brainstorming. One-upping can undermine employee confidence and give them the notion that the boss is stealing their ideas to rebrand as his or her own.
The solution? Cultivate a positive self-image as a boss, and realize that if an employee comes up with a good idea, that is good news for both of you. Self-confidence allows for sober decision-making and the realization that every good idea to come out of the office does not have to come from the manager — having effective leadership skills means that employees should be able to flourish under supervision.
This mistake is a classic creativity killer, and is one of the main reasons why employees so actively disdain middle management. Bosses who meddle in smaller projects and attempt to impose their will on every aspect of the workplace will face blowback from employees who value their freedom, believe they are well-qualified for their positions and resent the dynamic of being forced to do something.
The solution? A boss’s job is to gently guide employees through tasks. Proper explanation and clear lines of instruction can help simplify a project from the outset and should help negate the need for further instruction after the project is begun. Checking in every once in awhile to clarify an issue is not micromanagement, nor is asking an employee to report his or her progress in a task. Keeping an open line of dialogue between different levels in the workplace is the fastest way to erase this pox from your office.
Not Following Through On Promises
A lousy boss often thinks that they are above the law—indeed, that they may even be the law. Every disgruntled employee has a story about a time they worked hard to complete a task and their boss did not hold up his or her end of the bargain. This behavior creates a culture of resentment in the office and leads to decreased productivity, employee dissatisfaction and a lack of trust around the office.
The solution? Integrity is easy to preach and difficult to practice. A good boss will keep a detailed log of his or her responsibilities in the workplace and ensure that every task or sign-off is done properly and promptly. Most importantly, if an assignment is missed or dropped, a good boss does not deflect blame. An honest assessment of oneself and a serious apology for any wrongdoing are two qualities that are valued in a superior.
Excessive Anger or Conflict in Employee Relations
No one likes to be yelled at. Even though some situations call for a show of force as a boss, too much conflict in the workplace breeds a culture of resentment and fear amongst employees, which may mean that they will be less likely to seek the boss’s counsel on issues that actually matter.
What to do? Just be nicer! Use empathy to understand things from the point of view of an employee, and actively work with that employee to understand what could have been changed to achieve a better result. Motivation comes from all different places, but imprudent anger is rarely a substitute for effective leadership skills.
All and all, managers need to trust and appreciate their employees on a daily basis to not only have good relations, but foster a more productive work environment.
@JPGeorge3 grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in public relations, JP has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.