Written by Benjamin Lee for iqDynamics
A recent study conducted by the Harvard Business School and Stanford University has determined what most of us have suspected all along; working for a horrible boss is terrible for your health. So terrible in fact that the researchers at Harvard and Stanford have deduced that the negative health effects caused by excessive workplace stress is equivalent to being exposed to significant amounts of second hand smoke.
Shocking isn’t it? Or is it really?
Research has shown us that the majority of employees who leave their jobs often cite their bosses as the number one reason as to why they have chosen to resign. A toxic or even outright hostile boss can make an employee’s professional life extremely unpleasant and on the long-term this without a doubt will have a drastic effect on said employee’s productivity and wellbeing.
While fear-based management tactics are prevalent all over the world, this issue is particularly endemic in many South-East Asian based businesses where employees are often given little-to-no autonomy and are left at the mercy of their bosses’ moods.
Don’t believe us? Try speaking to a Malaysian or Singaporean worker and they will gladly regale you with tales of horrible bosses who blur the lines between being unprofessional and outright psychotic i.e. screaming hysterically at subordinates, throwing items or hitting objects. Thus it should come to no surprise that a recent JobsCentral survey revealed that a shocking 61 percent of Singaporeans reported that they were unhappy at work because of their bosses. Add on the fact that chronic stress is extremely unhealthy on the long-term and you’d probably end up with either high employee turnover or constant absenteeism.
This is why the generation of leaders and managers need to break this vicious cycle of fear based management and instead learn how to engage and empathize with their employees. Here are 10 signs that you may perhaps be hurting your employees instead of helping them.
As a business owner, you may feel that your employees are not taking their work as seriously as they should be hence you feel that you are perfectly within your rights to raise your voice or even throw something in anger. After all, you have a stake in the business while your employees are simply employees and this leaves you with the so-called right to get well and truly angry.
Rather unfortunately, getting yelled at by the boss is an especially common occurrence in many small-to-medium sized organizations in Malaysia and Singapore. Given the fact that most SME bosses are also business owners, the common mindset among most employers is that it is perfectly normal for the boss to verbally abuse his or her employees as they feel that this is their given right.
However, constantly throwing temper tantrums has no effect whatsoever on workplace productivity and only serves to frighten and stress out employees. Yelling at a staff member for a mistake is a form of negative reinforcement which does nothing to solve the actual problem. In fact, this encourages staff to clam up and hide their mistakes from you instead of working to improve their skills.
On the long-term, your more talented staff will surely move on to greener pastures leaving you with a core of unskilled staff who are more keen on avoiding getting yelled at then improving themselves. Instead, leave your temper at the door and keep your temper in check. Choose to take a deep breath and choose to discuss any failures with said staff member when everything has calmed down. This allows your staff to better absorb the information that you are communicating while also setting a good example for the rest of the team.
Lousy bosses often believe that “if you give them an inch, they’ll take the whole nine yards” and it all starts when you listen to them as written by Sever. While nobody enjoys receiving negative feedback it is still a crucial part of improving oneself and the organization as a whole.
Instead of shutting down your employees at every avenue and dominating meetings, you should encourage open discourse among your employees and ensure that the flow of communication moves in both directions. This approach serves to empower your employees and imbues them with the understanding that their opinions are appreciated and their contributions are valued.
Surrounding yourself with yes men (and women) who mindless agree with everything you say is a sure way of setting yourself up for failure. Remember the fairy tale of the emperor and his new clothes?
Another great way of alienating talented employees and increasing turnover rates is by practicing favouritism. Some employees may feel that they will be able to increase their standing in the company by attempting to curry favour with the boss by spreading tales or mindlessly agreeing to everything the boss has to say.
While many managers deny this as a fact, you may find yourself subtly favouring that one staff member who always seems to agree with everything you say and always has something bad to say about other employees.
You can avoid accusations of favouritism by refusing to gossip with any employees and taking your employees out together as a team for lunch or dinner. Also, ensure that all projects and assignments are fairly distributed at all times.
As quoted by Theodore Roosevelt, the leader leads, and the boss drives. As a leader, you need to bring together a diverse group of people in order to harness their abilities for the betterment of the entire organization. Besides having solid management skills, you need solid HR management software to enable you to get the best out of your team, and we at IQDynamics are equipped with the skills and software to help you do so.
Click here to read more on our comprehensive and integrated HRMS system.