As leaders, we are aware of how recent research indicates the trend of employees leaving their managers, not the company. I have often wondered if the managers who have higher staff turnover lack the self-awareness to realize how their “stress-inducing” actions are causing employee dissatisfaction.
Here are five thoughts to consider about your behaviors as a leader. These actions definitely contribute to the stress levels of your team. Whether you have high staff turnover or not, honestly assessing yourself in these areas will increase your self-awareness and help correct these behaviors..
- Keeping Your Team In The Dark– Do you have any of the following thoughts: “My team doesn’t really need to know all that” or “They won’t really understand the background” or “I don’t think they need to be worried about this situation right now.” Withholding information, intentionally, unintentionally, or even with a right motive, is one of the most detrimental things you can do to cause stress in your team.
Successful leaders know how open and honest communication builds team connectedness and engagement. Rather than minimizing or withholding information, trust your team to understand and appreciate the opportunity of being informed. Your behavior is a direct predictor of the team’s health and trust levels. Withholding information, intentionally or unintentionally, produces skepticism, mistrust, suspicion, and fear.
- Regularly Changing Or Adjusting Decisions You Make– In his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, author Napoleon Hill analyzed the habits of over 2500 people. One of the conclusions he drew from this analysis was that the most successful people had the habit of “reaching decisions promptly, and of changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed.” He went on to say unsuccessful people “without exception have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly and of changing these decisions quickly and often.”
Avoid a tendency to be like some politicians who “flip-flop” their position on sensitive topics. Take the necessary time to gather information, explore options and make decisions which align with the overall goals you have set for the team or organization. In time, minor adjustments to the tactics of a decision are all well and good, as long as the direction of the decision doesn’t change.
- Delegating The Same Task To Multiple People – When coaching clients, I regularly conduct a 360 assessment: I speak with a dozen or so people including the boss, several peers and several staff, to learn how they “experience” the person I am coaching.
On more than a few occasions, I receive feedback from staff indicating they wish their boss would stop delegating the same task or project to multiple people. This bad habit causes stress, mistrust, and is highly unproductive. Sometimes a leader does this because of a lack of organization or even memory issues. Nevertheless, this behavior must be eliminated.
If you can’t trust the people on your team to perform, you would be wise to ask why you continue to have them on the team.
- Frequently Missing Or Rescheduling Meetings– Leaders who practice this habit can be disorganized, stressed themselves or simply don’t value the time of their team as much as they value their own time. In any case, this habit results in stress on your team. Frequently missing meetings without notice is simply due to poor planning or poor prioritizing on the part of the leader. Frequent rescheduling is also due to poor planning.
As a firm believer in the value of regular one-on-one meetings between the leader and each key stakeholder (boss, peers, and individuals on your team), I would interpret a leader’s failure to keep this schedule, especially when they have requested the meeting in the first place, as a sign of disrespect.
When you are present, be fully present. Others can certainly sense when you are stressed out or distracted. Occasional rescheduling is necessary, yet it is wise for this to be the exception, not the norm.
- Listening To Others With A Problem-Solving Mode Mindset– How often do you find yourself going into problem-solving mode when a team member discusses an issue with you? I recall working with a client who would routinely spin her chair to fire off an email to fix a problem one of her team members brought to her.
The trouble was, the team member wasn’t asking the leader to fix anything. In fact, most times, the team member had several options they wanted to discuss with the leader and were perfectly happy to handle the issue themselves. The leader stopped listening, acted fast, and caused the team member to feel both unheard and incompetent.
The better habit is to refrain from acting. Instead, ask questions for clarity, including if there is anything the person would like you to do on their behalf.
Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought. You might consider asking your team if you have a tendency to exhibit any of the above mentioned habits. You could also consider asking your team for other examples of you causing them stress. You may be unaware of the impact some of your habits may have on your team.
PS – the above is based on an article that appeared on Forbes.com written by Ivelices Thomas.