Posts Tagged ‘leader behaviors’

Five Reasons to Pick up the Phone

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

by Dr. Wesley Carter

Ask any professional and they will tell you that email is indispensable. Email serves a vital role in the operation process. Unlike live conversations, email enables individuals to rehearse messages before actually communicating to the recipient(s). In addition, email functions as a tool for communication, documentation, archiving, dissemination, invitations, tracking, and organizing.

However, the overreliance on text and email may be negatively influencing interpersonal relationships between professionals. Email simply does not have the potential to replace all communication mediums. There are at least five situations where email is not a very communication medium; debates, emotionally charged messages, private conversations, negotiations, and media richness needs.

The Rule of Six. If more than six emails are exchanged about the same topic between two people, within the same day, it is time to make a phone call. When numerous emails are exchanged within a relatively short period of time, email has outlived its usefulness and a voice-to-voice conversation is a more effective communication tool.

Context-sensitive messages. When the context of an email can be negatively misinterpreted, it is wise to make a phone call. Disagreements and misunderstandings can escalate quickly when emails are perceived negatively or too rigidly. In fact, emotionally charged communications may be exacerbated by email. A phone call provides both parties with the opportunity to clarify points and resolve issues in real-time.

Privacy Needs: One should never assume an email message is private. Electronic communications are never truly private. Most employers have the legal right to access any and all communication that occurs through company property. Truly private messages should never be relegated to email. If an email could be negatively perceived by organizational leadership or law enforcement, it should not be created.

Negotiations. Email is not effective tool for facilitating negotiations. However, after the terms have been negotiated, email is an excellent documentation tool. In a successful negotiation, each party feels fairly heard, represented, and compensated. Unfortunately, the lack of social cues inherent in email communication may not provide each party with enough information to perceive the negotiation positively.

Media richness requirements. Face-to-face communication is considered rich media, whereas text communication, such as email, is considered lean media. The classification of communication modes based on richness and leanness refers to the capacity for accessing social cues via a communication medium. It is easier to share social cues through face-to-face communication than email. Ideally, individuals should meet face-to-face when starting a new working relationship to negotiate the rules of engagement. However, face-to-face meetings are often impractical. In those instances where face-to-face communication is not possible, voice-to-voice conversation is the next best alternative. Email should only be utilized to kick-off new relationship if face-to-face and voice-to-voice are unavailable.

Before typing the next email, individuals should pause and evaluate whether email is the most effective medium to communicate the intended message. Taking a few seconds on the front end could save time, money, and relationships. It is an investment well worth the consideration.

Dr. Wesley Carter authors a weekly business column in The Charlotte Post newspaper. Carter holds a Doctor of Management (DM) degree from the University of Phoenix with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership, an MBA from the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University, and a B.A in Management from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This information may not be copied or shared without permission from Dr. Wesley Carter. If you have a question, email wesley@krsconsult.com or call (704) 992-1211. This article originally appeared in the Charlotte Post.

The Office Tyrant

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Dr. Renae Sanders

Imagine a workplace where the top official is a tyrant, a bully, a complete “donkey”! Belittling employees, frequent soliloquies (dialogue just does not occur), broken promises, subpar pay and boastful attitudes occur in many organizations and in some companies a litany of behaviors maybe documented. Bad behavior is occurs more in this down market than it did during the economic hay day of the past. This behavior is rampant in large and small organizations. But what toll does this take on organizations and its employees?

The impact of incivility on productivity and revenue in organizations are real, yet most business leaders are blind to the role they play in these circumstances and the impact of poor behavior on bottom-line results is clouded by perceptions of external factors and blaming “others” for organizational results. The truth is when you repeatedly chip away at coworker and employee confidence, self esteem, and creativity you are shooting your organization in the proverbial foot!

In fact, it seems these individuals get promoted rather than being dismissed. In this regard, short-term gains are given greater weight than long-term costs related to turnover, absenteeism, and increased healthcare costs (depression, hypertension, and stress), and even lawsuits from employees placed in harm’s way when a disgruntled, offended employee goes “postal” on colleagues.

Many books and articles have been written advising employees on how to cope with workplace tyrants and bullies. Yet, the real culprits are the organizational leaders who turn a blind eye on the bullies citing improved performance. Or the tyrannical leader who believes his or her behavior is the “authoritarian” style of leadership and who are blind to their own behavior.

You are an Office Tyrant if you believe:

  • Your way is always the best or only way to be successful.
  • Everyone is an imbecile except you
  • Others can only hear you if you yell at them
  • Employees should be able to read your mind
  • Employees work for you and not for themselves or their families
  • Insults are an effective motivational tool
  • People have no value unless they are driving revenue (even if you hired them in a non-revenue generating role)
  • If there were more people just like you in the world, the world would be a better place for everyone

As an employee, your ability to survive working for a tyrant is likely if your leadership team recognizes bad behavior as uncivil and costly to the organization and works to rectify the behavior via coaching, therapy, performance feedback, or time away for the office offender. Otherwise, your best bet is to find a new role away from these individuals and continue to contribute to your organization’s success. Unless, you are challenged by this type of work environment! 

In large well branded companies, these behaviors may get lost or be hidden in the complexity of the organization, but in small companies that rely more heavily on employee loyalty, customer referrals, and reputation. Such behavior can have detrimental, often immediate, effects on the bottom-line. Thanks to technology and social media the world fits in the palm of everyone’s hands. Your business’ future rests on the influence of others’ tweets or Facebook posts.

If you are the tyrant, discover what beliefs you hold about others and leadership and modulate /correct bad behavior. We are all on the same team!

Related Articles

In the Workplace: It’s the Tyrants Who Prosper

How to Turn the Table on Bully Bosses and Workplace Tyrants

Dr. Renae Sanders is the Managing Director at KRS Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in organizational relationships. Believing people are the link between strategy and success, Dr. Sanders works with organizations, leaders, and managers to strengthen internal relationships. You can reach Dr. Sanders at info@krsconsult.com.

Office Saboteurs

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

By Renae Sanders

Office saboteurs run amuck in nearly every organization. Like spies, saboteurs feign friendship and support, while working double time to destroy your efforts or that of the team to achieve specified goals.  According to the dictionary, a saboteur is “one who intentionally causes destruction – in order to hinder the efforts of his/her enemy”. Unlike hole-finders, saboteurs are often subversive and covert. It’s harder to determine the identity of this rogue operative.

Saboteurs may be your lunch buddies, coffee partners, project team members, and the like. These office mates are often so close you never see them as the ‘internal mole’. But many times, the saboteur is so emotionally charged they do not hide their disdain for their self-imposed enemy. The target of their rage: the new manager hired or promoted over the saboteur; the manager’s sacred cow (i.e., office pet); the coworker who just completed a master’s program; the only female or person of color on the team; the person with the foreign accent; the employee who just dresses too well; the person with all the bright ideas; in short, the target of the saboteur is the person perceived to be a threat the work wrecker.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

Coping with an Office Saboteur can be frustrating and an effort to expose the saboteur often backfires. An undercover coworker’s ultimate goal is cause unhappiness and to shatter others’ belief in your trustworthiness. The best strategies for dealing with saboteurs are basic professional activities and behaviors:

  1. Speak positively publicly and to others about the saboteur. The old adage says, “kill them with kindness” or “you can get more bees with honey” holds true. Public acknowledgement of the saboteur’s productive work makes him/her appear petty. Make nice, but honest comments about the saboteur.
  2. You must stay on your game. The saboteur uses any misuse of company time and resources in his or her crusade against you. Be on time to work and meetings; do not abuse lunch hours; or spend too much time on personal calls.
  3. Maintain your emotional distance from the detractor. Of course, you must remain pleasant and professional; just keep in mind that for the moment you are in the crosshairs of someone who perceives you as the enemy.
  4. Avoid attempts to draw the saboteur into the open. While this strategy works in espionage stories, focusing on them means you aren’t focused on the work at hand. At best, make sure to communicate your achievements and successes and the accomplishments of your team.

The workplace is known for supplying its share of workplace fodder for soap operas; but there is also no dearth of suspense, drama, and other covert affairs to maneuver. It’s all in a days work.

Renae Sanders is the Managing Director at KRS Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in organizational relationships. Believing people are the link between strategy and success, Renae works with organizations, leaders, and managers to strengthen internal relationships. You can reach her at info@krsconsult.com.

Lead with Courage, Manage with Grace

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Courage mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty – Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Grace disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency; the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful  – Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

In times of challenge or change, we look to leaders to demonstrate courage. In war, in sports, and at work, we rely on leaders to emerge and implore teams to remain calm; work together and harder; and focus throughout the challenge or period of change.

Individuals with the ability to build strong relationships and establish an environment where team members are encouraged to develop their skills have a leadership advantage. While charisma is a plus, the ability to clearly define the vision and expectations, give actionable feedback, and build confidence require temperament and self awareness.  For example, the leader who preaches risk-taking then punishes team members for taking initiative actually does more to erode team growth and trust.

Individuals grow and learn best when they are given the information and tools needed to succeed. Coaching then becomes a critical element to strengthening performance. In baseball, coaching occurs before and throughout the game. Signals and queues are given to keep the team focused on what is important and what to expect. The coach does not play the game for the players.  Defining success, openly sharing expectations, and setting goals are critical to leading and developing teams. Most of us have dealt with nebulous communications from managers such as “I don’t know how to explain it but this is definitely not what I wanted” or “I, somehow, expected more from you”. But the ability to communicate meaning, show empathy, and give direction is the mark of a leader.

Leading thoughtfully challenges managers to protect the person while explaining mistakes. Grace takes judgment off of the individual and places focus on the task, decision, or behavior.  It takes courage to assign an important project to a developing employee; it takes grace to recognize the importance of helping the employee succeed rather than standing back and watching her fail. Courage is allowing the successful employee to receive credit for her success; and grace is standing with him in failure.

Courageous leaders lead their teams by taking bold stands; making the right decisions; demonstrating appropriate behaviors; celebrating successes; and understanding how they also influence positive and negative outcomes.

Related Articles

The Mark of Great Leader