Many people launch startups because the idea of being boss is more appealing than being employee. However, as Suzanne Lucas observes on Inc.com, the problems don’t go away just because you are the boss.
“In fact,” writes Lucas, “there seem to be more – clients, employees, investors, regulations – and sometimes, the biggest problem is you.”
The author highlights five ways to tell if some of your so-called problems could be fixed by changing your own attitude and behaviour.
1) You think everyone’s stupid. You might be able to attribute an isolated case to a bad hire, but if your employees are consistently misinterpreting your instructions, it’s likely to be a problem with your communication.
If this is the case, Lucas suggests hiring an assistant who can interpret what you mean. But she warns that this type of person can be hard to find. Another solution is to hire an executive coach who can help you with your communication skills.
2) Employee turnover is high. Perhaps you don’t promote from within, or haven’t offered pay rises in years. Maybe you don’t reward loyalty and great performance, or respond to negative feedback by “shooting the messenger”.
You need to welcome negative feedback as it will help you develop and improve. Always reward good performance and value all your team members. Don’t look upon employees as people who owe you for their jobs, or the atmosphere in your company will suffer.
3) You don’t make positive comments. Make it your goal to find five positive things a day that your employees do, and comment on them.
4) You have run-ins with those who don’t share your views. Lucas comments: “Perhaps more often than not, you may be making yourself miserable by blaming your problems on something you can’t control… rather than figuring out how to improve on the things you can.”
5) You bully people to get them to listen. The author points that if you need to intimidate employees before they’ll listen to you, it’s probably because they’ve worked out that whatever you say politely is meaningless, and they only react when you start shouting because you’ve trained them to see that as a sign of importance.
If yelling and bad language are a part of your leadership style, Lucas recommends the following strategy:
“Gather your staff and apologise for all the yelling you've been doing. Tell them it's a bad habit and you're going to stop it. Any time you raise your voice, vow to put $5 in a jar. At the end of the month, the staff can have a party with the funds. But in exchange for your lack of yelling, tell your staff you expect them to respond to your calm requests. Trust me, your staff will keep you in line with a party on the line.”