Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Are you a cranky boss?

Do you have employees that are naturally bad mannered, rude or oblivious when it comes to human emotions? Or does that sound like you?

A few weeks ago, I was tasked to recruit an administrative person for a client. The brief was reasonably straight forward. Well, sort of. The challenge was finding a suitable candidate that was going to handle one of the managers that this role reports into to. The successful candidate needed to be ‘thick-skinned’ and able to ‘cop the odd rude comment without taking offence’.

There were two things I found interesting about this brief:

  • That the company puts up with the behaviour of this manager time and time again without taking action, and they have never initiated a  conflict management or ‘how to be  great team leader’ course for this person.
  • I was going to have to politely let candidates know that one of their direct reports can be a bit abrasive at times. Not often a good seeling point when talking to good candidates!

The end result is that I found someone who passed the personality test and could do the job as well.

Winner: cranky boss!

Unfortunately for this employer, the culture of tolerating badly behaved people in management positions will continue to cause staffing issues.  So what are some suggestions to improve workplace culture?
  • Buy your staff lunch, sit around the table, and talk about the type of working culture they want. If it is driven by your employees, they will own it more vigorously.
  • Then put something in writing to make it official. It may be a code of conduct that sets the standards of behaviour or appearance in your workplace.  It can include how you interact with people (with respect and politeness), how to handle an issue with someone.
  • Post it on the wall of your office so everyone has access to your personalised code of conduct every day.

Another great behavioural model to show-case around the office is ‘Above the line thinking’. This feeds into the expectations of behaviour in your office.

It goes like this:

What matters is how we respond to events. We can operate at a level of thinking that is either ‘above’ or ‘below’ the line.

Taking ownership of my response to, or my part in, this situation 
Acceptance of the aspects of this that are outside my control 
Taking responsibility for my previous and future actions
Casting blame externally: ‘It’s not my fault...’ 
Making excuses: ‘I couldn’t do it differently because...’ 
Staying in denial: ‘There’s nothing I could change...’

The more time you spend above the line, the better your behaviour and treatment of others.

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