Volume 61: Be Better, Leadership

Hierarchy of Needs“Our management does nothing but scream and yell. They aren’t looking to solve problems; they’re looking to assign blame.”

“The morale in this place feels like a prison. Coming to 

work every day is a beating.”

“I think the leadership here knows what they’re doing, but they don’t even listen to our ideas. I’m on the machine every day; I have practical ideas of how we can get better, but no one to share them with.”

“I have no idea what is expected of me. I think I’m doing a good job, but I get yelled at anyway, and the expectations change every week!”

Any of these sound familiar?

In all likelihood, we’ve all dealt with some, or all, of these issues at some point in our careers. So, what is the common thread between these complaints that I hear on a weekly basis?

Leadership

Back when I started recruiting, the “Command and Control” style of leadership seemed to be the norm around the industry. Yelling, cursing, and stamping around like an infant was an accepted set of behaviors back then.

It’s not anymore.

The Command and Control style has largely gone the way of the dodo for a couple of reasons: first, corporate offices won’t abide by it in today’s marketplace. They’re too scared of lawsuits and scaring away good talent to risk letting managers run wild.

Secondly, today’s workforce won’t abide by it either. Today’s workforce, especially the younger crowd, knows that there are options out there, and that they don’t have to put up with it anymore. It’s not a black mark to leave a job because of a stifling culture anymore. It’s almost expected.

It’s not just the younger crowd, though. Those of you with a longer memory will remember that this entire article series started because I got an email from a long-time technician in the industry. He had been in the same facility for decades, and left because the way the leadership still treated their people was unacceptable. He didn’t leave because he wanted more money, or an easier job, he left because he wanted to be shown basic, human respect.

This is a common theme these days. And this is such an easy problem to fix as a manager: don’t be an asshole. I understand that for some of you, that’s the only way you know how to manage, (and notice, I don’t say “lead”) but it doesn’t work long-term anymore.

So, if you can’t yell and scream, how can you fulfill the needs of your employees when it comes to leadership and company culture, AND reach the expectations placed on you by your corporate offices?

Well, I know that this is going to shock you, but my suggestion is basically the same as it always is: Open and Honest Communication.

And note that yelling at employees isn’t “communication” in my book. In my definition, communication is a two-way dialogue. At the end of the day, managers have to manage, but in today’s world, an understanding and fluid discussion up and down an org chart helps organizations get an edge, and keep good people around.

Today’s workforce, again, especially the younger crowd, demands to know the “why” of many facets of their job. Why do we do things this way? Why does this have to be done at all? Why haven’t we tried this?

You can gripe about it all you want: “These kids are all lazy and entitled.” “Back in my day, we just shut up and did what we were told at work.” “It’s not professional to question your manager!” But, after you’ve finished venting, you have to deal with the reality around you. It’s not 1985 anymore.

Conclusions:

So, my suggestion is pretty consistent: communicate with your teams directly and respectfully. Listen to the younger opinions, it’s possible they have an approach that might help you modernize and become more effective.

Make sure you are answering questions, and helping your team move forward. This will create a culture that empowers employees, and gives them the sense of ownership in their careers that seems to be rare these days.

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