4 Ways to Handle a Workplace Bully

 

 

 

workplace bully

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An alarming 75 percent of employees reported a loss of motivation due to the stress caused by an abrasive manager, according to a study by coaching firm Executive Confidante. As if that weren’t shocking enough, 44 percent of those surveyed actually left an employer because of workplace bullying. These statistics show how your company could be susceptible to the problem, but there are steps you can take to minimise or prevent the tension caused by a workplace bully.

Executive Confidante’s owner, Kalli Matsuhashi, specialises in identifying, preventing and eliminating workplace bullying. We asked her to explain four common methods of dealing with bullies as well as what business owners and employees might realistically expect from these tactics. Here’s what she had to say.

Working for an abrasive manager (AKA workplace bully) is almost always a very stressful and trying situation. Assuming the abrasive manager will continue their bullying ways, there are really only a few ways to minimise the resulting stress.

  1. Ignore the workplace bully. It’s almost impossible to ignore an abrasive manager – they’re usually right on top of things, trying to intimidate people into better performance. One can try to ignore the bullying behaviour and recognise that it isn’t personal – it’s usually a reflection of the manager feeling threatened or worried about demonstrating good results to those above him or her in the hierarchy. This is much easier said than done, however. Work to ignore the bullying behaviour – by seeing it for what it is – but not the boss himself/herself.
  1. Isolate yourself from the workplace bully. Many people take this approach – 63% according to research by Christine Porath and Christine Pearson in their study on incivility in the workplace. This protects the individual from the wrath of the bullying boss but has other consequences that in the end could cause the individual to lose his/her job. This approach reduces teamwork and collaboration and ultimately leads to poorer job performance and lower productivity.
  1. Observe and implement strategies co-workers have used to deal with the workplace bully. It is the rare individual who is able to stand up to the abrasive manager and gain his or her respect to the point where the bullying no longer occurs. This means that the majority of people working for a bullying boss will have employed strategy one or two above – neither of which works very well. Observing others that have managed to either not get fired or to have proven able to somehow withstand the stress of the situation is a good idea – more likely than not, however, these long-term employees are suffering greatly and are unable to perform well. If the workplace bullying is a long-standing issue, the best remedy may be to leave the employer.
  1. Report the workplace bully to HR. The one obvious solution that has not been discussed as much is to report the issue to HR or other managers. This too is unlikely to lead to change, but at least draws some attention to the issue internally, and the more people speak up, the more likely real change will occur.

While the potential dangers of workplace bullying are very real and too complex to solve in a simple blog post, the tactics above represent common approaches to diffuse a negative situation. For a more nuanced look into the issue as well as in-depth advice and answers to workplace bully FAQ, please watch Kalli’s free B.O.S.S. webinar – Workplace Bullying: How Much Is It Costing Your Company?

 

3 Signs You’re the Worst Boss Ever (and What You Can Do to Fix It)

 

boss scolding his employees
Being a boss means you’re not going to be liked all of the time — that just comes with the territory. Eventually, you’re going to have to make a few decisions that not everyone is going to like to move your business forward. While it’s not easy to move forward with tough, potentially divisive decisions, committing to your vision in the face of adversity is a sign of excellent leadership.

Of course, not being liked any of the time is a sign of ineffective leadership. It can lead to disrespect from your team and a high employee turnover – which can cost your company big time. Oftentimes, bosses don’t even know they’re doing anything wrong until it’s too late. Here are the top 3 warning signs that ineffective leadership is creating a negative company culture and what you can do to fix it.

Boss EgoNo one’s knocking on your door.

If employees aren’t coming to you with questions, concerns, new ideas, or requests to brainstorm, there’s a good chance you’ve created a closed-door environment. Take a moment to think about why your employees are avoiding you. Have you inadvertently created the impression that you are too busy or too important to speak directly with your staff? Have they tried to approach you before but did not have a positive experience?

As an employer, it’s up to you to create a healthy employer-employee relationship based on collaboration rather than fear. Your employees should think of you as a sounding board and a guiding force, not a dark shadowy figure who is entirely removed from day-to-day operations.

According to Logan Chierotti, Co-founder and COO of InternetReputation.com:

“Fear is an invisible force that can tank your profits. It sucks away productivity and replaces it with politics. It smothers innovation and replaces it with timidity. It repulses top talent. You can’t afford fear! And because the balance of power is on the employer’s side, the employer is the only one who can take this toxic workplace emotion out of the equation.”

Instead of just talking about an “Open Door Policy,” Logan suggests you demonstrate what that really means to your employees. A great way to start is by stepping out of your office and regularly interacting with staff members. Ask them what their greatest challenges are and what resources you can provide them with to overcome them. Authenticity is key.

You’re Micromanaging

Micromanaging the StaffWarning: you may be micromanaging without even knowing it. What’s the number one way to tell if you’re treating employees like school children (and they completely and utterly resent you for it)? When you’re monitoring them beyond their metrics.

Every position in your company (including yours) should be held accountable to certain goals. If you’re not measuring your employee’s successes, you have bigger problems than being an unlikable boss. Metrics should be clearly defined from day one (preferably even before you make the hire) and measured/reviewed regularly.

That said, if you’re monitoring your employees beyond their metrics, i.e. reading every email that comes in and out of their inbox, clocking their lunch break with a stopwatch, telling them how to do things rather than giving them guidance to figure it out for themselves, there’s a good chance you’re micromanaging. Of course, if they’re not meeting their established metrics, it’s up to you to take action, but until then, the best course of action is to give them the space they need to thrive.

Micromanaging doesn’t only destroy company morale, but it’s a huge timesuck on your productivity as a leader. According to The Alternative Board’s  work-life balance survey, 50% of entrepreneurs are not delegating, because they feel they are “the most capable option” and “employees do not have the right skills.” This also probably contributes to why 82% of business owners are working over 40 hours a week (while only 44% want to be).

Lots of PaperworkYour Philosophy Is “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”

Good leaders are willing to do the work they ask their staff to do. If you ask your sales team to make cold calls, you need to be making them too. Do you expect your employees to have tough conversations with difficult clients but are uncomfortable having them yourself?

If you’ve never put in the work you expect your employees to do, there’s a good chance you don’t understand the scope of what they’re tasked with. Not only does this make you unable to properly train and manage them, but it can leave you with the kind of unreal expectations that make employees quit.

No, you should not be doing the same tasks as your employees every day. That’s why you hired them. But you should be able to demonstrate how to do the difficult tasks that you ask your staff to do, as well as understand and sympathize with their challenges.

Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” As a leader, it’s your responsibility to foster excitement for the job at hand and pave the way for team-wide success. Closing yourself off to your employees disables communication, and micromanaging them creates an environment based distrust.

Successful leadership is a tough feat. It requires adaptability and a willingness to take ideas from others and bring about change. The Alternative Board’s peer advisory model allows you to run your business practices by a board of fellow entrepreneurs in non-competing industries to see where there is room for change. With multiple perspectives analyzing your organizational structure, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to spot shortcomings (such as ineffective leadership) before they threaten your business. Get in touch with a local board to learn more about how TAB can help you become a more effective leader and solidify every facet of your business.

 
 

5 Things Employees Really Want

 

what employees want

As a business owner, you’re required to wear a lot of hats – the toughest being a mind reader. To stay competitive, you need to anticipate what your employees want before they do. Employees fear being fired just as much as you fear their quitting. With their jobs (and your perception of them) on the line, it can be difficult for them to ask for the things that will keep them around for years to come.

Because we know playing psychic isn’t the easiest item on your to-do list, here’s what employees want most from your business:

      1. Growth

        Employees are most productive when the possibility of growth is within sight. Whether it’s financial, professional, or personal, it’s up to you, as their supervisor, to know what kind of growth motivates your employees and to set up a plan for achieving it.

        Providing growth opportunities is a win-win situation. “Companies grow when the people inside them grow first,” says Inc. Contributing Editor Geoffrey James. “As a company grows, it must change, and those changes are only possible when employees take on new challenges, expand their capabilities, cultivate new behaviours and entertain new ideas.

      2.   Flexibility

        According to Sarah Landrum, founder of Punched Clocks, “If you don’t offer flexible working hours and conditions, you’re not only creating an unideal work environment for your employees. You could also be shutting out qualified candidates who won’t settle for working for a company with an antiquated working hours policy.”

        6 million Americans reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labour that they choose part-time work over full-time work, so they can pursue their passions as well as their careers. In a business owner’s ideal world, employees would be as committed to the company as they are. Of course, this is a huge ask, considering employees typically become employees because they want some degree of work-life balance.

        Having passionate employees (even if they’re passionate about something outside of the office – whether it’s their kids or their budding screenwriting career) is not something to look down on. Passion keeps employees happy and motivated and can prevent office burnout. If you can find ways to strike a balance between their workload and their personal pursuits, you can keep employees for life.

      3. Feedback

        Both positive and negative feedback are essential to fueling employee motivation.

        The Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker™ report on The Impact of Recognition on Employee Retention, revealed that nearly half of all employees would leave their current job for a company that better acknowledges their contributions. “Managers really lose a golden opportunity to motivate their employees if they forget to praise an employee for doing a great job,” says Nancy Mobley, Founder and CEO of Insight Performance. “On the other hand, there is nothing quite so disheartening as learning for the first time during an annual review that some aspect of your performance has been lacking for the past 6 months, but you were never notified.”

      4. Diversity of Work

        The most effective way to ensure an employee burns out and quits after a year is to give them a small scope of work and expect them to plug and chug forever. Repetitive tasks are often necessary, but also a huge motivation killer if not mixed in with new projects, training, strategy, or growth.

        Reviews are a great time to set up new challenges for your employees. Ask them what tasks have become monotonous and see if they can be delegated to interns or freelancers, allowing the current employee to take on new, more advanced responsibilities. There is never a shortage of work to be done, so why waste an experienced employee on entry-level tasks? There’s a good chance your employees would like to be contributing bigger, better things – give them a shot!

      5. Trust

        Trust works two ways: employees want to trust their employers; they also want to be trusted.Many of your employees will arrive at your door having been mistreated by previous employers. It’s up to you to build a culture of trust, so employees can give the job their all without feeling taken advantage of. “Trust is the currency you will need when the time comes for you to make unreasonable performance demands on your teams,” says Leadership Expert John Hamm. “And when you’re in that tight spot, it’s quite possible that the level of willingness your employees have to meet those demands could make or break your company.”Employees want to be trusted. The opposite of trust is micromanagement – a known productivity killer. Not only does it destroy employee morale, but it’s a time suck on your leadership tasks, as well. If you’re spending more time tracking your employees’ processes and performance than you are on developing new business opportunities, your business will have nowhere to grow. Building trust with your employees and overcoming your fear of delegation may take time, but it’s critical for business growth.

 

 

 

 

Above all else, employees want an environment where they can thrive. Isn’t that exactly what you want from them too? Providing them with growth, flexibility, feedback, diversity of work, and a culture of trust benefits you just as much as it does them. While it may seem like employees stick around for the salary, personal and professional fulfilment keeps them committed to the job. Offer these five perks, and you’ll hold onto talented employers longer than your higher paying competitors will.

If employee turnover is costing your business, The Alternative Board can help. Meeting regularly with a group of local business owners can assist you in identifying gaps in your management strategy and offer you solutions. Unlike advice from family, friends, and the world wide web, TAB Business Owner Advisory Boards provide firsthand advice directly relevant to your business. Get in touch with a local board to see how TAB can help you serve your employees, so they better serve you.