On a Sirius XM comedy channel recently, I heard a comic say we spend our entire life complaining about the same things. This could be accurate for a number of parts of our life, such as at work and being a boss. Day in, day out, bosses complain of similar behavioral, performance or attitude problems seen from the employees they lead. The company names change, the manager’s names’ change, but these repetitive problems of our most valued training clients often stay the same. Thus, it is the most common employee complaints we hear that we’ll address today and how the very bosses who make those complaints are often creating them. But, no Monday Moment would be complete without solutions, so take note of how to also FIX these common complaints…that is if you really want them to go away.
Employee Complaint #1: Employees Won’t Get to the Point
How does a boss create this complaint? Asking a question in an intimidating manner without being aware of how they are perceived and assuming there is only one right answer
Just last week I heard a CEO describe employees that went “around the bend” to get to a point. He stated he never asked a question he didn’t know the answer to and shared frustration about how employees couldn’t give just an immediate answer, even if it was “I don’t know”. This is innocent behavior and one many managers and leaders are familiar with or have admitted doing. Innocent and effective are not synonyms. Does a leader need to surround himself with those who don’t think or communicate in the same way he does? In short, yes! In fact, absolutely! Or one creates the concept of group think and becomes blinded by one’s own believed brilliance. Leaders need a challenge at times. Employees also need to communicate, but if they are criticized and berated for bad news when they do, they will stall until the cows come home to answer the question. Explain the style you prefer when others answer a question and then look for the reasons they might answer you differently anyway. It’s likely not insubordination or ignorance, but a way to somehow prevent the messenger from being the one who got figuratively shot.
Employee Complaint #2: Employees Don’t Demonstrate Initiative
How does a boss create this complaint? Training employees to fear criticism for wrong decisions and failing to train them how to make good decisions versus simply follow directions
A leader motivated by getting things done strives to have a task completed quickly. The most efficient way to do that is to give precise directions for employees to follow. This is not development, its derailment of an employee with the potential to develop. Are you nurturing robots or your future succession plan? This is also dependent upon the employee’s the leader has surrounded herself with on the team. If the leader wishes never to be challenged or to be faced with the concept of not having the best idea or horrors…being wrong, she might hire employees who are great order takers and followers, but don’t have a lot of initiative. You don’t get to train them how to follow your every waking word and then complain that they never deviate from any one of your same words. Initiative means you want them to go it alone and that then means at times you have to leave them alone.
Employee Complaint #3: Employees Don’t Get It
How does a boss create this complaint? Continuing to expect others to “get things” in the same manner, same speed, and same method of delivering the direction as they do.
People who say yes to being a boss, manager or leader, are often those same ones who have volunteered for these roles their whole lives. They are driven to lead, to compete, to be the best, to get to the top. That’s about 25% of our population. Notice how not everyone cares if they win? Notice how not everyone competes, drives a name brand, buys a label, or works long hours to get ahead? Most of the world is just fine being a follower and being someone who does their job and goes home and that’s okay. If there were not these people all the driven Type A people would kill each other. But what does this mean for you? This means that if you’re a boss, you must stop insisting that Suzie get the fact that there are four hundred other details she missed if that’s not how she thinks. You must stop demanding that Dustin show initiative before telling him what that means exactly if it’s not something that comes naturally to him. At no point does that suggest that a leader acquiesce and accept the fictional fact that employees are just stupid. No, this is not that. A successful, effective, emotionally intelligent leader who cares will be curious why someone doesn’t get it and will seek to find ways to get through so they do.