You might believe you are doing a great job as a boss, but you could be a more frightening leader than you think, according to Nihar Chhaya, writing for Harvard Business Review.
If intimidation is your way of pushing staff to get results, then your behaviour could negatively affect their health, happiness and performance, as well as increasing the turnover of employees in your organisation.
A 2018 study shows that when a boss puts staff under heavy pressure, the likelihood of them jumping ship increases by 90%. Conversely, employees whose boss uses more encouraging management methods are 68% less likely to quit.
In addition, research has established that people working under intimidating bosses display more bad behaviour in the workplace themselves.
CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF
So how do you check if your management style is doing more harm than good and how can you remedy it?
Chhaya, an executive coach to senior leaders at global companies works on both sides of the coin – with intimidating bosses and those who have to cope with them.
He recommends five strategies to make sure you aren’t giving your staff a scary experience:
- Take a good look at your behaviour. Working on the assumption that you do make people nervous – and you are not likely to get an honest answer if you ask that question directly – observe and take note of what you tend to do in assorted scenarios:
- Are you taking employees for granted or do you afford them the same respect as clients?
- What tone of voice and body language do you use when conveying that you aren’t satisfied?
- Are your employees making eye contact with you or acting withdrawn?
- Do they express differing viewpoints from your own?
- Find out more about how your teams feel. Chhaya says: “Ask them to describe a time in the last six to 12 months when they felt unable to express their ideas and a time when they felt free to do so. By asking ‘when’ instead of ‘if’, you will prompt them to scan their memories for real examples instead of simply saying no.”
- Ask yourself if you are projecting your own fears. Leaders who are afraid of failure often react by pushing themselves – and their employees – harder. Micromanaging and over-correction can be signs of insecurity over your own abilities.
- Connect rather than correct. Eliminate fear by engaging with employees to find successful solutions together. Explain that you want to change something and then invite their ideas.
- Admit you are fallible. Employees will find you more likeable if you show that you make mistakes too. Chhaya says: “Leaders who create safe cultures welcome dissent from subordinates and concede power every once in a while in the service of increasing the team’s commitment.”
Forceful behaviour does work sometimes, but it’s not the only way to get results from employees. Staying alert to how your actions as a leader affect morale and productivity will help you adopt an acceptable level of pushing, without being scary.