December 14, 2018

6 Truths About Leading People

People At WorkAs a leader, you have probably read countless books and articles about how to lead people.  Some of the information you have read in the past is great…some needs to be thrown in the trash.

One of the big problems I have with much of the information out there in books and journals about leadership is that these books focus on the leader…not on the followers.  My belief is and always has been is this:  As a leader, if you know some general truths about people, about what motivates them and what drives them away, you will be a much better leader.  So, today, I want to share with you six truths about leading people.  While these do not apply to every single person out there, these are so common that I feel I need to write about them today.

1.  The majority of people you are leading are doing their best…even if you think they are not.  As a leader, you may have some preconceived ideas and expectations about what your followers should or should not be doing.  The question I have is this “Have you spoken to them about those expectations?”  If not, then this is not their fault…it is yours.  As a leader in today’s world, you have to be willing to place a top focus on the training and development of the people in your company and then be willing to bring in coaching to encourage people and to hold them accountable to their own greatness.  If you are walking around silently complaining about what someone should be doing, there is a good chance your employees don’t know this, and it is up to you to assign someone in your company the job of implementing a world class development program.

2.  People are inspired by public recognition and will do more for you when they get it.  As someone who works with leaders and teams every day, I have heard so many people speak about the lack of public recognition for a job well done.  From my perspective, people are craving recognition, and they are just not getting it, and they are craving recognition for not only big accomplishments but the small things that make the biggest difference in your company.  Why are we doing this to our employees?  My hunch is the old excuse of “We just forgot…or we just did not have time.”  Hmmm…I say it’s time to “make time” for public recognition every day.  The public recognition does not need to be in front of hundreds of people…it could be in front of just one other person, and the employee needs to hear something like this:  “Thank you so much for handling the incoming calls yesterday for 30 minutes.  I cannot tell you how much time this freed up for the whole team to finish the project we were working on.”  So, you name the good deed while explaining how it had an impact on the team and/or your company.

3.  Every person in your company has a different level of readiness for change.  Generally speaking, most people don’t like change, because change challenges us all to go into unknown territory.  Having said that, some people will adapt to change quickly while other people will change gradually over time while others will never buy into the change you are trying to implement.  To expect everyone to jump on board with your change initiative or new idea is almost impossible.  A tool like the DiSC assessment can help you understand a bit about how people view risk and change so that you aren’t blindsided when some people don’t automatically jump on board.   For those people who do not easily buy into change, give them an end date for getting on board. For those people who don’t get on board with your new initiatives, it will be time for a tough conversation.

4.  People are watching you to see if your actions match your words.  Because of the lack of integrity in some of our leaders, our world now looks at leaders through scrutinizing eyes.   They may hear your lips flapping, but they don’t see your actions lining up with the words you speak.  The first rule of integrity is probably “Tell the truth and live the truth, even when no one is looking”.  Right up there with this rule is “If you say you are going to do something or you want your team to act a certain way, you better do it”.  If you don’t, your credibility will instantly become tarnished, and people will lose trust in you and the words you speak.

5.  Not everyone in your company wants to be an “A player” on your team.  Somewhere along the way, company leaders have grabbed onto the idea that every single person in their company wants to “play to their full potential” and “rise to the top”.  This is just not the case.  There are many people in companies who love playing a support role.  They are your “B players”, and they are perfectly content playing that role.  As a leader, if you are going for only “A players” or people who want to get there, I recommend you read the book Topgrading by Brad Smart and then only hire people who have the qualities of the “A players” of the world.  Having said this, I just don’t know how well a company would operate with all “A players”.  I feel that we need people in support roles who don’t want to rise to the top of the company, but that is just my opinion.  The truth is to know that even though you may want everyone succeeding beyond their wildest dreams, there are people who just don’t want that for their lives, and as a leader, you have a decision to make:  You either have a mix of “A and B Players”, or you only hire “A players” who are going to rise to the top of your company.  It’s all up to you.

6.  There is a 99.9% chance that the people in your company are gossiping about you and others.  Let’s face it: People talk about other people in your company.   Of course, they love to spread around the bad stuff, but as a leader, you must be willing to know that there is a grapevine in your company, and it is important to know what is being heard through the grapevine.   I don’t want to suggest that you dwell on this topic, but it is important that you put your ear to the ground enough to know what is being said at the water fountain, over lunch and during breaks about you, your team or your company.  It could be very valuable information that can lead you to making a decision that could turn your company around.

To learn more about the people in your company and what they want from you as a leader, contact me today for a complimentary coaching session.  I am happy to see how I can help you.

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Leadership Coaching for Abrasive Leaders: The Boss Whispering Institute

I posted a recent post by the name of Leadership Coaching is Not for Everyone.  I had a lot of responses to this post, and I wanted to make you all aware of The Boss Whispering Institute, brought to my attention by Laura Crawshaw, Ph.D., BCC, Founder of The Boss Whispering Institute, dedicated to research & training in the field of coaching abrasive leaders

The Boss Whispering Institute is the world’s first organization dedicated to research and training in the field of coaching abrasive leaders, including medical, legal, and academic professionals, and Laura mentioned on LinkedIn that she is happy to share the methods with everyone.  You can access it by going to their website www.bosswhispering.com, going to the Research & Publications page, scrolling down to Coaching-Related Publications, and clicking on “Coaching Abrasive Leaders: Using Action Research to Reduce Suffering and Increase Productivity in Organizations”, Crawshaw, L., International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, Autumn, 2010. This will allow you to download the PDF of the article.

I just want to remind everyone to re-read the article I posted.  I do want to emphasize that I said this:

Now then, I want to shift just a minute to the clients who are more than likely not going to respond well to coachingThis is not always the case, but I have seen these five scenarios dozens of times, and I have actually ended contracts with people who have exhibited these behaviors, because I can tell that the situation is just not getting better.

I want to emphasize that I did not say that leaders with certain behaviors could not be coached.  In my experience, people who get about six to eight weeks down the road in a coaching engagement and who are not shifting (in my experiences) will tell me upon questioning that “the company wanted this…not me”.  And, as we all know, a person has to want to change to truly change on the inside.

I applaud Laura and the Boss Whispering Institute for their work with being able to turn around the more challenging leader.  So, you can check out their work, or you can refer a more difficult client their way if you feel you cannot coach a leader who is just not shifting.

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Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders?

Jeannette Paladino of  Write, Speak, Sell sent me a great article on CNN Opinion which addresses a new book: Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? A Better Way to Evaluate Leadership Potential.

I cannot wait to download this book and go through it.  The CNN article really hits the nail on the head when they went ahead and answered the question:  Why are we so bad at picking good leaders?

CNN Opinion:

“The short answer is, we focus on all the wrong things, like a candidate’s charm, their stellar résumé or their academic credentials. None of this has any bearing on leadership potential. And despite claims to the contrary, even a candidate’s past results have little bearing on whether the promoted individual will succeed once promoted”. It is this realization that has resulted in many organisations adopting a more collaborative way of working. Large corporate entities are displacing traditional rigid hierarchies and implementing a shared office scenario where CEO’s can working alongside managers and those further down the pecking order. This transparency is leading to more succinct and effective communication strategy whist boosting morale and ownership.

The article and the book go on to talk about the true qualities of a great leader.  We have a huge political election coming up in November, and I encourage everyone to look beyond the charm, good looks and resume to look at the strength of the candidate’s character, their ability to truly lead during this most critical time for our economy and their willingness to stand strong in the face of adversity and make a tough call, even if it means becoming unpopular.  Running for the highest office of our country is not a beauty contest…it is a tough race to put a true leader in office who can pull Congress together and get everyone moving into new territory so that we can truly thrive again as a nation.

Thank you Jeannette for sending this article and the book to me.  Looks like I am going to love this book!

 

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Leadership Coaching Strategies to Stop Top Talent From Quitting

The Revolving Door of Top TalentDo you ever feel like your hiring process is just like a revolving door?  Top talent in…top talent out!

If so, you are not alone!

During the past ten years of offering leadership coaching and executive coaching services to companies, one of the biggest complaints I hear is about the revolving door of the hiring process.  One of two things usually come up in leadership conversations:

  1. Top talent comes, they stay for about six to nine months and then they leave
  2. The company “settles” for bodies rather than digging to find the top talent they need, so the department or project team now has some drag on their team

What I have found is this:  If employees feel disconnected from their work, bored or if the work is elementary and mind-numbing, employees will leave, regardless of the many tricks you try to lure them into staying.  So, here are a few suggestions to help you with this challenge:

  1.  Match the job to the employees talent and level of capability.  Humans actually want to be challenged.  They want to be stretched.  So, if the job is not challenging or could be done by someone with half of their experience, they may be going through the motions, but their heart and soul are not in the work.  Having said this, if the job is too hard, an employee can get very frustrated and just give up.  Striking the right balance is critical.
  2. Offer leadership coaching.  With leadership coaching, you can help your employees strike that “right” balance between being totally bored and disconnected and being way in over their heads.  By offering weekly leadership coaching to your employees, you can discuss what’s working and what is not, how to challenge them more and when and how to maybe back down just a bit.  This is also a great time to provide training to your employees if they feel they are in over their heads.  They may just need some additional training or a tiny question answered to get back moving again in the right direction
  3. Work on building trust.  It is not uncommon for people to simply not trust a boss, a co-worker or the company.  As a leader, one of your biggest jobs to do every day is to build those strong bonds of trust that employees need to feel safe and secure in the jobs they have been empowered to do.
  4. Talk with your employees about what inspires them and what outcomes they most value.  You may think that money inspires your employees, but in my experiences as a leadership coach, I have found that what matters more than money are the following:

The opportunity to be challenged, succeed and then be recognized for that success

The reward of extra free time to spend with friends and family

The feeling of doing a great, great job and bring proud of a finished product

So, if you are having a tough time keeping employees, start looking at both your hiring process and take the time to sit down (without judgment) and ask your employees why they are leaving.  Ask them what you could have offered that would have made them want to stay, and ask them if they felt the work they were doing was truly meaningful.  You may be surprised at the answers as they come forward.

If you are having any challenges with either hiring or keeping top talent, contact me today so that we can talk a bit about how to turn your specific situation around.

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5 Effective Leadership Skills You Can Use to Quickly Settle a Dispute at Work

resolve disputeAs a leader, there will come a time in your career when you have to sit down with two or more people and do your best to help settle a disagreement, dispute or conflict. 

While this is not the activity most leaders enjoy, it is a part of the job, and the best approach is a Childrens Party that engages the kids.

Striking while the iron is hot is critical in helping to settle a dispute.  Many leaders just ignore conflict on their team, thinking that time will heal all wounds.  I have observed the opposite to be true.  If two or more people on your team are in the middle of a disagreement, negative emotions will build, and team chemistry can fall apart.

So, here is what I suggest trying the next time you are settling a dispute.  You will be using these 5 leadership skills:

1.  Addressing conflict swiftly.

2.  The art of using effective dialogue.

3.  Mediation.

4.  Holding people accountable.

5.  Taking action.

For this post, I am going to use the names John and Sue.  Let’s say John and Sue have had a disagreement, are avoiding each other and starting to gossip about the situation to other team members.  It is time to call them both in, and start a dialogue:

Step 1:  Establish the ground rules.  Allow each person a chance to vent for about 2-3 minutes about what is going on.   Then, state firmly but calmly “We are now going to shift into a conversation about what each of you want for yourself, what you want for each other, what you want for the team and what steps you are going to take to get there.

Step 2:  Ask John the following questions:

  1. What do you want for yourself?
  2. What do you want for Sue?
  3. What do you want for your relationship?
  4. What do you want for your team?
  5. What steps will you take, starting today, to
  • Get what you want
  • Help Sue get what he wants
  • Get what you want for the relationship
  • Help the team get the results they need

Step 3:  Ask Sue the following questions:

  1. What do you want for yourself?
  2. What do you want for John?
  3. What do you want for your relationship?
  4. What do you want for your team?
  5. What steps will you take, starting today, to
  • Get what you want
  • Help John get what he wants
  • Get what you want for the relationship
  • Help the team get the results they need

Step 4:  State the accountability system by saying this.  “I am going to be observing your interactions, and I would like to follow up on _____________ date.  State a date that is no later than two weeks into the future.  If at this time, you have not resolved your issues with each other, we are going to have another conversation to see where we go from here.  While I encourage open debate, I have to get my team on the same page, moving in the same direction, so I will be following up in two weeks.

Step 5:  Take action.  If Sue and John cannot come to an agreement, and if they cannot work together and continue to cause tension in the team chemistry, it is time to make changes…either moving them onto different teams or taking steps to determine if Sue and John are really a good fit for your company.  If they “agree to disagree” and still work together, you may continue to see this issue surface, even if you move them to another team or department.

If you or a team member is having difficulty settling a dispute, contact me today for a complimentary consultation to see if I may be able to help you with this challenge.

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5 Warning Signs that Your Arrogance is Tearing Your Team Apart

ArroganceArrogance is something that we often discuss in the world of leadership.  A little bit of arrogance can go a long way in the direction of success, but when overused, arrogance can tear your team apart.  The main reason?  As a leader, if arrogance is your leadership skill of choice, your team is more than likely feeling devalued, rejected and angry.  When I speak in private to team members about their arrogant leaders, they usually shrug and say “It is a waste of my oxygen to mention anything or bring new ideas to the table.  He always thinks he has the right and only answer”.

If you are an arrogant leader, these behaviors will be seen by others:

1. You think you have the only answer.

2. You always think you are right and that the rest of the world is wrong. And, your team hears this constantly.

3. You dismiss the ideas of others on your team.

4. You appear aloof and that you don’t really like other people.

5. You pull rank constantly and try to overpower other people.

6. You rarely share credit with others.

7. You don’t take feedback from others as an opportunity to learn or grow.  You think you are already masterful at everything.

Here are the signs that your arrogance is tearing your team apart:

1.  Team members don’t speak up during meetings or one on one discussions.  Why should they?  You know it all!

2.  Team members work in a robotic fashion.  They would never want to come up with an innovative idea, because you will more than likely squash any new ideas.

3.  When speaking with team members, they stumble through their words, get flushed and anxious, and they will always back down from their opinion.

4.  Team members quit, because they are living in fear.  They are afraid they will say the wrong thing, and you would rather be right than keep your top talent in place.

5.  Team members are talking about you behind your back.  You may not know it, but trust me…they are talking about you behind your back.  When a team is not aligned with their leader, and the team is talking about you behind your back, get ready for your productivity, teamwork and bottom line results to fall into a very dark hole.

If you are a leader who is living with arrogance, there are some steps you can take:

1.  Most people living with arrogance don’t know it, but you need to hear it if you are.  I highly recommend that you commit yourself to getting feedback from your team on an annual basis.  I suggest that you bring in a 3rd party who knows nothing about your company to ask about 10 questions of your team and the people who know you.  Then, it’s time to sit down and hear what your team has to say about you.

2.  Work on opening up your body.  This sounds odd, but most arrogant people have facial expressions that send the message they are not open to others.  They will look away, turn their back or pretend they are not listening.  Sit down with your team members, remove anything that is blocking you from your team, and really listen without all of the sighs and looks that you may usually send.

3.  Disclose your shortcomings to your team.  Most leaders believe that this will make them appear weak and incompetent to their team members.  The opposite is true.  When you open up to your team about your shortcomings, your world will change overnight.  You don’t have to drag every bone out of the closet, yet it is important to tell your team about some of the feedback you have received and your plan of action.  Then, you must act on your plan.  Your actions will speak so much more loudly than words.

4. Be a coach…not a know it all.  In today’s business world, true leaders are becoming great coaches.  With coaching, you will be collaborating with your team on a way to “win”.  (Dave Buck’s Coach to Win and Play to Win methods are really great for this purpose).  With coaching, you are not telling people what to do…you are pulling their strengths to the surface and then coaching them on how to leverage those strengths so that they become stronger and better at what they do.

5.  Drop the cocky attitude and listen.  People who are over the top on arrogance are cocky.  This intimidates others.  You can be confident and come across as approachable, but not if your goal is to be cocky.  There is a very fine line between being confident and being arrogant.  If you are arrogant, you are probably very smart and talented, and you don’t need to throw that all over people.  Just observe yourself for one week in listening and curiosity mode and do your best to bite your tongue.  Watch the responses as you open up, listen and become more curious.  Your team will shift if you practice listening and being curious.  It just works!

 

The 5 Things Leaders Hate to Do that Stop them From Being Great

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, you probably have heard all about the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.  In the book, Collins discusses the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great, and much of this process has to do with the leadership skills of the people at the top.

I have had the honor of coaching over 1000 business leaders in the last ten years, and while I do agree with Collins on the points he makes about great leaders and great companies, I have learned through the years that there are five things that most leaders hate to do.  As a result, they push these five to the back burner, and allow the simmering process to burn the team and/or company down…a slow and painful death for everyone, including the leader.  I am writing this post today, because I don’t want you to become one of those leaders who becomes a “has been” in the next 1-3 years and has a California wrongful death case in the process.

So, here we go:  The 5 Things Leaders Hate to Do that Stop them From Being Great:

1.  Being open to coaching, hiring a coach and working with a coach.  I don’t care how great you are, if you are a human being, you need a coach.  I am not saying that you need me (yet that would be great if we are a good fit), but if you are a leader at the top of your game, a great coach can help you go even further, stretch even more, build a more effective team and hire the best talent in the world.  For some reason, leaders think hiring a coach means they must be problematic or broken.  It is truly just the opposite.  As a leader, if you are a big thinker, you will understand quickly that an objective opinion and support from someone outside of your company can offer you new perspectives, new insights into your role as a leader.  A coach can also help you leverage your strengths, identify your weaknesses and learn how to leverage both to create new opportunities for yourself and your team.

2.  Addressing conflict.  Many leaders believe if they just ignore a conflict, it will magically go away or die on the vine.  Conflict breeds contempt, and if you are a strong leader, you will find yourself addressing some type of conflict on a weekly basis.  The goal is to strike while the iron is hot and to learn how to address conflict effectively.  I highly recommend the book Crucial Confrontations for this purpose.  It is hard to speak to others about a conflict or to “confront” others.  Rather than using the word “confront”, I recommend using the term “Critical Conversation”.   By using this language, the conversation becomes “mission critical”, and you are compelled to address the problem right upfront.

3.  Taking personal responsibility for company problems.  The issues with Enron, 9/11, bad loans and Bernie Madoff marked the end of leaders being above the law and the beginning of personal responsibility.  At the end of the day, as a leader, your company and team is not about you.  It is about your employees and customers.  It is absolutely critical that you take personal responsibility for failures in your company and that you speak about them to the public.  While there may be others who fell short of their responsibilities, at the end of the day, as the top person in the company, there is something you did that helped contribute to the problem.  You have have:

  • Hired the wrong person
  • Withdrawn yourself from over the top communication
  • Micromanaged too much OR isolated yourself too much

Each time a problem happens in your company, it is important to sit quietly and figure out what role you played in the process.  If you dig deep enough, you will find it.  Once you find it, it is then time to speak to your employees and customers about the issue, where you went wrong and what you are going to do about it.

4.  Dedicating yourself to ongoing learning and development.  This goes a bit back to the first point about hiring a coach.  You may be the top dog, but everyone has something new to learn.  Leaders often send their employees to training and development events, but they never put learning and development on their own calendar.  If you want to be great, you will be dedicated to lifelong learning and always looking at new ways to expand your depth and breadth of knowledge.  Learning and development opportunities are always available in your own industry, but I would like to stretch you to think about learning opportunities outside of your own industry.  This could be in the area of technology, social networking or the arts.  Finding creative ways to use information outside of your own industry is a characteristic of someone who is willing to think way out there on the bleeding edge, and we need this in our leaders of today.

5.  Speaking less…leaving a few things unsaid.  Many leaders talk way too much.  They think they know all the answers, and leave very little opportunities for their teams to come up with answers and find their own way.  Deep listening is a critical skill all leaders need in their toolkit, and just as important is the ability to empower others to speak and act.  While you may have all of the answers, your team will step up and bring your answers to the table, but only if you empower them to do it.  While it may take a bit more time for your team to figure out the best solution to problems or to find their way through a maze, they will exercise their strategic thinking and problem solving skills, but only if you back off.

If you are a leader, congratulations and thank you for all that you do for your followers, companies, cities, schools and government.  If I can be of support in any way by offering you a bit of leadership coaching to help you move from being a good leader to a great one, contact me at 910.692.6118.

 

3 Strategies to Make Sure Your Leadership Coaching Really Works

I will be the first to admit that I am not a guru when it comes to leadership coaching, but I have been around the block a few times. I have been coaching since the year 2,000, and through the school of hard knocks and trial and error, I have finally come to the conclusion that there are 3 strategies that I must use if I want the leaders I coach to be successful. Today, I would like to share those three strategies with you.

1. Design your coaching strategy around what the followers want to see change or improve…not necessarily around what the client thinks she needs. Leadership coaching is so very different from life coaching or coaching a solo business owner for this one reason: The leaders you coach have people who are following them, and as a leader, you must be willing to shift your leadership style, communication style or even the way you walk based on what your followers say they most need and want. Below, I will go into detail about the one month needs assessment, and I just want to caution you about this: Simply because a leader calls you and tells you she wants to work on her time management or organizing her office does not mean this is what her followers want to see. The most successful leaders understand their followers needs and desires and they will do anything to get the majority of their followers’ needs met. As a leader, if your client does not care what the followers think, then she is simply not a leader…enough said!

2. Begin your actual coaching only after one solid month of assessment. Assessing a leader in a company is a great deal like a physician trying to diagnose a patient’s illness. A doctor would never walk in and just start writing prescriptions without asking multiple questions of you (and maybe of your family members) to find out what is really going on. During the first month of leadership coaching, I invest my time conducting a very thorough needs assessment which includes the following:

  • An oral 360 degree feedback review. With my approach, I interview at least 12 people who are around the leader. The list of people I interview include direct reports, bosses, peers and even family members. While I am certified to run the online 360 degree assessments with the Center for Creative Leadership, I have found that by asking 12 simple questions of 12 different people, I get much better responses. I not only hear the answers, but I hear the sighs, the laughs, the “ughs” and I can see eyes rolling, deep thinking and smiles or frowns on faces.
  • The DiSC Assessment. Most leadership coaches have their favorite tools to use. Mine is by far the DiSC assessment. The tool has been used for over 30 years by over 40 million users and is one of the most trusted learning assessments in the personal and professional development industry. With the DiSC, you will quickly learn if the leader you are coaching is a strong-willed, bottom line risk taker or a leader who loves to entertain and motivate others. The communication style of your leader is critical to her approach with her followers, and this tool will help you bring out the best in your clients.
  • The Strengths Finder Profile. I truly believe that using a leader’s key strengths to help shore up weaknesses is one of the best ways to approach your clients. It is critical to know upfront what your leader’s strong suits are, and this assessment can help you refine your coaching and hone in on those strengths from the first coaching session to the end of the coaching engagement.
  • A two hour relaxed “get to know you” meeting with your new client. I always invest at least two hours in the early stages of the needs assessment with my new clients to find out what makes them tick and what ticks them off. I want to know about the music they listen to, their favorite foods and colors and a bit about their personal life. This relaxed conversation builds trust and also helps fill in some of the gaps that will more than likely be missing with the formal assessments.

3. Once you have completed the needs assessment, pick one goal ONLY to work with your client on for at least six months. I have observed coaches who pile goals on top of goals on top of more goals and “things to do”. This is a big mistake (in my opinion). I have learned that when coaching a leader, we have to agree to work on the one leadership skill that needs the most work, and work a system so that improvement starts to happen as quickly as possible. Improvement in one area will often help in other areas of leadership, so I just want to encourage you to keep hammering home points around that one critical skill that needs work. Doing a little bit of work on a long list of leadership skills will get your client to move an inch. Working on one goal and seeing a leadership skill turn 180 degrees is much easier for your client to swallow and others will notice improvement quickly if you are really targeting one area that is of greatest concern for the people who are trying to follow the leader.

If you or someone you know is interested in discussing leadership coaching, please feel free to contact me, Bea Fields, at 910-692-6118. I am happy to spend some time discussing your leadership needs.

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The Top 3 Most Common Employee Complaints

What would your employees write on the wall next to your suggestion box?

This cartoon always makes me laugh.  In looking at this cartoon, simply ask yourself this question “If uncensored, what would your employees write on a wall next to a suggestion box about you and your executive team?”

In the leadership coaching work I have provided executive level leaders and their teams over the last ten years, I have discovered that there are 3 main complaints employees seem to voice regarding upper management and the leadership team.  These complaints or concerns are not isolated.  They are common across all geographical boundaries, so take note of these and rather than take my word for it, go ask your employees how they feel about these concerns.

1.   Micromanagement: We all know what it feels like to be micromanaged.  Your boss, parent or authority figure is constantly checking up on you, breathing down your neck or looking over your shoulder to make sure the job you are doing is absolutely textbook perfect.   Micro-managers are usually obsessed with controlling the project and pushes everyone around them to succeed, beat the clock and “do it the way we have always done it”.  If you are a micro-manager, you are taking a big risk of disempowering your employees,  actually hurting their work performance and destroying their confidence.  In this case, it is not uncommon for a top employee to eventually become so frustrated they will leave and go to work your biggest competitor.

Solution: Prior to the start of a project, fully train your team on the plan, strategy, processes, expectations, where to go for resources and when to ask questions, and then…let your employees go and implement the job you have empowered them to do.  Give them the freedom to take on the project, and if you do observe an employee going way off track, invite them into your office, explain your observations and retrain on that one aspect of the project.   During a new project, you may also notice an employee taking on a task that may not be what you asked, but it is actually getting better results, so take note of that.   Ask someone you trust to observe you during the project and to call you on the carpet when you start back down the micromanagement track.

2.   Lack of Accessibility. It is not uncommon for the executive level leaders and senior managers to become isolated from the employees of the company.  Their offices are located in the executive tower at the top of the building and they literally stay on that one floor for the entire day.  This creates a feeling of a hierarchy at play, and as an employee, if you are  below the top of the totem pole,  you will feel so far removed from the decision makers that you may either:

  • Do a really lousy job, because you think no one is looking or cares
  • Start down a path that is illegal (stealing, harassment)
  • Begin wondering what secrets the company is trying to hide from you
  • Quit your job

In my opinion, there is no excuse for this.  This approach is the “good old boys network” approach, and is really outdated and no longer an advantage for success.

Solution: Lead and manage by walking around the company on an every other day basis.   Simply pop in and out of different departments to say hello and to find out what is going on.  Take a notepad or your digital device with you to jot down complaints and suggestions and notice if you see repeating patterns in concerns, worries or doubts.

Another approach to improving accessibility is to hold town hall meetings two times per month, and give your employees the opportunity to gain access to you and your team and to talk to you openly and candidly.  During the town hall meeting format, as a leader, your job is to listen and to thank your employees for their suggestions…not to justify or make excuses for why something may not be going so great.  It is perfectly fine to explain why a certain decision was made to clear up any confusion, but it is not okay to argue or make excuses during dialogue with your employees.  At the end of the day, your employees need a voice, and if there is a negative perception floating around your company,  it is your job to change the perception from negative to positive.

3.   Wrong Fit. In this scenario, an employee is hired to fill one job and the first day he shows up, he ends up in a completely different role.  In my mind, this is basically a form of lying to an employee.  If an employee is hired to do one job and placed in another, he will forever be miserable.

Solution: Perform a Strengths Finder Profile on each employee and place them in roles where they can thrive.  You can purchase the book Strengths Finder 2.0, and inside the book will be a code to go online and take the assessment.   If you discover at the last minute that the job  OR the job description is going to change, and it is not a good fit for your new employee based on her skill set and strengths, it is critical for you to communicate to her that the job role has changed and give her the option to stay or move on to find a better fit.

R Strands for Rebuilding Trust: A Quick Quiz to Test Your Trust Level With Your Team

"team of climbers on the summit"

Does Your Team Trust You? Take the Assessment Below to Find Out.

In today’s business world, leaders are finding that rebuilding trust…once broken can be a daunting task…one tiny thing happens or a wrong word spoken and trust goes flying out the window.  While there are numerous trust building and team building activities available today, I believe it is important to assess your current level of trust with your team before pursuing things such as outdoor trust building activities, retreats or even a conversation addressing any questions about trust.

When it comes to building trust, there are some very important things that employees are looking for in a leader, and they include (but are not limited to):

  1. A sense of safety.
  2. A sense that you are honest and truthful.
  3. A belief that you will make sacrifices, even put yourself and your job at risk for them.
  4. A sense that the team has a shared interest with each other AND with you…that you are all on the same page, moving in the same direction because you do share a common bond/interest.
  5. The ability to have open, honest and candid communication with you without feeling a fear of punitive action.
  6. A faith that you are leading them to a positive outcome (things may be shaky, but they know you are not going to leave them high and dry or throw them under the bus).
  7. A sense of confidence in your ability as a leader
  8. A feeling of authority…knowing that you are “in charge” but that you are not a dictator or a bully.
  9. A belief that know what you are doing…that you are competent at the job you are doing.
  10. A belief that you will honor your promises…and that if the promises don’t pan out, you will apologize and admit your shortcomings.

So, if you are a leader, and you are wondering how trustworthy you are, take this quick assessment.  When you complete the assessment, add up the number of “yes” answers you check and you will be directed to a page to give you an honest breakdown on how your team may feel about  you at this time. The only way to begin to rebuild trust is to become aware of your trust level at this time with your team and begin working on those things which may seem tiny to you but HUGE to your team members.  It may also be helpful to have a team member you trust take the assessment on your behalf to give you an honest read on how the team may feel.

For another great post on strategies for building trust, visit this blog.

Trust Assessment

Please honestly answer "yes" or "no" to the following statements to determine if you are inspiring trust in your team. Before you hit the submit button, calculate the number of "yes" answers you chose. The assessment results with an explanation of your score will appear once you hit the submit button.