Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stop harassing and start nurturing your employees


Business Times  pB.1

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Learning & Innovation

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Stop harassing and start nurturing your employees


Becoming real leader is a slow, improvisational, experimental art. You need all the possible tools in your toolkit, not just the ones that worked for you in the past as a "jerk boss."


Haranguing your subordinates to show you are the boss will not work.  Your people fear that they might be casualties of your ever-changing productivity initiatives and never-ending quest for perfection (and profit).  They fear that the future you want will not be as good for them as they are only for you.  And they might well be right.


Jerk bosses always think that their subordinates are slacking in their jobs and are given to complacency.  They always try to squeeze the last ounce of performance out of their people.  They envy their employees and compete with them.  Worse, jerk bosses make their employees compete among each other (for his affection, his favors, his rewards, his time, his information, etc.).  They are afraid of their own people; afraid that they will be overshadowed.


Real leaders care about them as people, not just performance engines.  They agree on high standards of performance and set stretched goals while they treat their subordinates humanely and get to know them as persons.   They engage their people where they are, not where the boss is.  Real leaders help their subordinates reach their organization and personal goals.   They give their all-out support for their subordinates to do their job well and they take care of each other. 


Real leaders look for allies.  They work with their people.  Protect them.  Validate and reward their hard work in as many ways you can.


Jim Haudan, in his book The Art of Engagement (McGraw-Hill, 2008), wrote, "We asked tens of millions of people what really engages them in their businesses—what's necessary for them to volunteer the contributions of their heads, hearts, and hands to their organizations:


·         People want to be part of something big.  It's evident in the way concertgoers act as one, connecting with hundreds of people they've never met in order to create a force far bigger than they could achieve by themselves.  And by association, they feel like they're part of an effort, a piece of something more substantial and significant than they could ever be alone.    When this happens, people get a feeling that they are as big as the effort is.  This feeling affords a sense of substance, importance, and direction.  It's impossible to get people in any organization to think big if they are constantly asked to "just do their job."

·         People want to feel a sense of belonging.  When people are truly engage, they believe that they really belong.  They have a sense of meaning or validation when they feel that they "fit," they're accepted; they're one of the group.  It's a sense of affiliation and connection, and they can go forward together because they have something in common.


It's important to remember what it's like to start off being excited about a new job and a new role and, over time, become disillusioned because you don't feel that you can fully play.  Your ideas, opinions and thoughts are disregarded, and then you slip into indifference.

·         People want to go on a meaningful journey.   We all want to be on some kind of a purposeful adventure that matters.  As part of moving forward, there's a feeling of excitement, pioneering, discovery—and a sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving something that matters.  It's the part of the human spirit that suggests we can be more, that we are more.  Robert Redford once said, "I've always operated from a belief that if we could do more, we should.  We all want to create something that doesn't exist right now.  Nobody wants to sum up a lifetime by saying, "I did one hell of a job maintaining what was already there."

·         People want to know that their contributions make a significant impact or difference.  People want to be written into the story, to know that what they do really make a difference, especially in the lives of other people."


Jerk bosses and real leaders abound in small, medium and giant organizations.  You know what you are.



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