We’ve all heard the phrase, “it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch,” and while much of the time this can ring true in an office environment, it really doesn’t have to.
If you have someone in your office that you feel has a “negative” attitude toward work, this is a huge red flag for you as a leader to look around and make sure that all of your employees are satisfied with their positions and the work environment. Chances are, the negativity or frustration is affecting more than one person. This is where relationship building comes in and the importance of actually getting to know your employees. Not just their names, but actually who they are.
Let me give you an example. Many moons ago I worked as a retail manager. While in this position I was transferred to a new store, a store that already had their own culture and employees who were used to a certain management style. Let’s just say that the change in management did not go over well with employees, because after all, adding someone new into the mix, especially a newly promoted manager, can be a hard thing to adjust to. Instead of letting the defiant attitudes get me down, what did I do? I got to know my employees. I learned about who they were, what they liked to do for fun outside of work, and most importantly what their aspirations were for their careers. I listened.
What I learned from all of that is that, like customers, frustrated employees simply want to be heard. They want to build that rapport with their managers so that they can go to them with any issue they may be facing, because they then know that their manager will look out for them and get things done. So while you must listen, you also must show that you follow through with your promises. Never make promises you can’t keep. This is what makes a good leader.
So here’s a list of some suggestions for how to become a better leader and cut out office negativity:
- Get to know your employees and build a lasting rapport with them.
- Listen to them. This is where that open door policy that everyone talks about comes in.
- Show them that you are a doer not a don’ter, because the minute you promise something to an employee and don’t follow through, you lose their trust.
- Finally, ensure that you are treating your employees as well as you treat your customers.
In my opinion, dedicating yourself to these steps will help to cut out any negativity that may invade the workplace. Treating your employees as well, if not better, than how you treat your customers will give them the motivation to succeed, contributing positively the organization’s goals.
That’s just my two cents. What are your thoughts?
Five Questions to Help You Determine the Right Path
No leadership competency is more critical than recruiting, assessing and developing current and future leaders. And while decisions regarding how to fill vacancies impact quality of operational management – they also profoundly affect employee engagement and motivation, organizational culture, and ultimately mission success. Failure to carefully choose who fills a vacancy as well as how the vacancy is filled – can profoundly impact the leader’s credibility. Any time a vacancy occurs, it is not just those who are drawn to the prospect of being promoted into the vacancy who have a stake in the process… everyone who could be affected by the ripples of someone receiving the promotion feel a stake in the outcome – especially those who will work for whoever fills the vacancy!
In an ideal world, you would always have a strong pool of internal candidates to choose from but that is not always the case… and determining whether to simply promote from within or to open up an external recruitment process can be challenging.
Do We Have an Adequate Pool to Promote from Within?
The following questions will assist the leader in evaluating whether to promote from within, or to conduct an external recruitment.
- Do you have internal prospects with the essential technical qualifications to do the job? Too many organizations confuse essential and ideal, and as a result miss out on promoting exceptional candidates.
- Do those internal prospects who meet the essential technical qualifications have a track record of success in their current position? Some people make success happen and others are along for the ride. Know the difference.
- Have those internal prospects, who meet the technical qualifications and have a track record of success, completed leadership development programs to prepare themselves for promotion? Look for employees who are investing in their own growth even if internal development programs are not offered.
- Do those internal prospects, who meet the technical qualifications, have a track record of success and have they completed preparatory leadership programs while maintaining a reputation for a positive attitude and great teamwork among their current employees, peers and supervisors? Unpleasant people who are promoted become unpleasant bosses.
- Are those internal prospects who meet all of the above standards philosophically aligned with the organization’s stated mission, vision and values and do they have a reputation for walking the talk? Nothing damages credibility more than “do as I say not as I do” leadership.
These questions form a bit of a funnel, moving from the easiest criteria for evaluation, to the more challenging (but still critical). Proceeding through each of the five questions, it is likely the number of prospects still considered viable diminishes. In an ideal situation, you can answer all five questions affirmatively for at least three prospects. If so, an internal recruitment process only should be adequate. However, still opening up the process organization wide ensures everyone has a fair opportunity to compete, and that someone who has great potential has not gone unnoticed.
Remember, these questions are not designed to determine who to hire… they merely help determine whether adequate options exist internally to avoid an external recruitment process. Hiring decisions are almost always much better if options are available to contrast and compare to.
If you cannot answer in the affirmative on all five questions for at least three internal prospects, it is likely that an external recruitment process is appropriate.
Published July 2015 in Public Sector Digest
I hope everyone got a chance to read Heather’s awesome blog on employee engagement yesterday. It’s a topic that has been much on my mind the last two weeks (it is a current research topic for me). As Heather mentioned, there is a huge employee disengagement problem going on right now and it has had a profound financial impact on organizations. Even worse, disengagement tends to erode morale, negatively impact team dynamics, and threaten innovation.
In my research on this topic, I frequently find references to the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. Drive looks at what motivates us to be high performers and achievers; it isn’t what you’d think. According to the sociological experiments cited in the book, higher pay isn’t the great motivator it is thought to be. In fact, for tasks that demanded a higher level of cognitive skill, higher pay produced a poorer performance. Who knew??
Pink lists basic things we need: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Whether at home or at work, we need these things to stay motivated—to feel in control of our own lives, to create and learn new things, and to feel that we are making a difference in the world.
I was struck by this passage:
“The most successful people, the evidence shows, often aren’t directly pursuing conventional notions of success. They’re working hard and persisting through difficulties because of their internal desire to control their lives, learn about the world, and accomplish something that endures.”
This is a spot-on assessment, at least in my experience. Have you known people who were never satisfied for long with any job, even jobs that provided many opportunities for professional growth and development, even if they liked the job and their co-workers, and even if they had a decent salary, because they wanted, but didn’t necessarily need, a higher salary? For many of us, money is the only measure of success and we think it is what we need to be happy. I’ve known people to go from job to job in search of ever more money because that was the only need they focused on, at the expense of their other needs. No matter how much we feel our skills are worth, sometimes a job that meets those three basic needs Pink mentions is where we will be the happiest, most productive, and most engaged, and where we will find the type of contentment that money can’t buy.
This being said, I will freely admit that the need for autonomy is sometimes the most difficult need to meet. I have spent the last decade and a half working in libraries—a field that offers many opportunities to learn and endless intellectual rewards but few financial ones (I know you thought librarians were in it for the money, right??). What made me stay in those jobs where I barely made enough to cover rent was my dedication to the overall mission of libraries and my desire to make a difference in the lives of others. However, I have had to turn down a few jobs that I felt I would have loved because they didn’t pay the minimum I needed to support myself. This almost certainly would have ended up making me not love those jobs eventually. Being adequately compensated is a must before you can focus on your other needs.
Mastery and purpose come more easily if a) you are compensated with what you need to take care of yourself and your family and b) you have a leader who will help you meet these needs by providing opportunities for growth and learning and who will instill a real sense of the organization’s mission. These needs have been easier for me to meet, typically. Even in jobs I didn’t like, I still felt driven to acquire and master new skills and was always driven to do the work in a way that would cause me no regrets down the road. My purpose in any job is always tied to my own personal goals of doing my best and learning new things, whenever possible. But with bad leadership, it’s difficult to maintain a high level of engagement, no matter your personal work ethic because your basic needs won’t be met. If you have a leader who can help you align your personal goals with the overall mission of the organization, as well as encourage you to hone your skills, you’ll find yourself not only engaged at a high level, but performing at a high level.