Monday, 2 November 2009

Managers Behaving Professionally

I have personally seen two examples recently of Managers Behaving Badly. Unfortunately, unlike the TV series Men Behaving Badly, which was truly hilarious, bad behaviour at work isn’t funny. It’s stressful, worrying, and sometimes can have devastating effects. Only recently France Telecom was in the news for their abnormally high rate of suicides amongst their employees during at time of reorganisation.

So what constitutes professional behaviour from a manager? How can stress be reduced at times of change and job losses? With our own postal strike rumbling on, these seem like particularly pertinent questions. Some thoughts on managers behaving professionally:
  1. Define what constitutes a job well done. By thinking through in advance what you need from people, and what they need to do the job, everyone’s chances of a good outcome are increased.
  2. Acknowledge good work. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great talks of exceptional leaders who took the blame when things went wrong, but never took the credit when things went right. They gracefully acknowledged the contribution of their team. Paradoxically the team held the leader in higher regard for his or her actions, rather than feeling they hadn’t contributed. It seems humble leaders are also good leaders.
  3. Do what you say you are going to do. So simple, so effective, and so appreciated by everyone.
  4. Be open and allow people to understand, rather than presenting a fait accompli. Stress is at its highest when things are being done to you, rather than you being in control. Many small businesses are facing very difficult times at the moment, but stress levels are managed because owners have all the facts and can work accordingly.
  5. If training budgets have to be cut find other ways of getting information out to people who need it. It is stressful and very difficult to work without the knowledge you need to do a good job. Be creative and encourage knowledge cafes to share information about topics that might have been dealt with through a training course before budgets were cut.
It’s a pretty stressful time for everyone at the moment, but reducing the stress and worry out of people’s working lives as far as is possible, has to be a worthy goal.

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