After working in the field of Human Resources (HR) for 28 years, I have learned as an HR employee and as an HR consultant that mistreated people in the workplace may do the minimum to get by, take lots of sick leave, and exit the company. Employees want to feel validated, trusted, and they want “buy-in” of ideas when possible. This week the New York Times article, When the Bully Is the Boss, shared “The presumption that tough bosses get results — and fast — compared with gentler leaders is widespread, and rooted partly in the published life stories of successful C.E.O.s. Bobby Knight, the Indiana University basketball coach and author of “The Power of Negative Thinking,” was notoriously harsh, and enormously successful. So was Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.
I spent 20 years in the Air Force where managers, including myself, had to be direct and sometimes forceful. The mission of the military is different than a corporation or company. There will always be projects, goals, and outcomes that a manager will need for success in the company.
However, anyone can be a manager, and it’s not easy being a leader, especially if you have not been groomed or possess the abilities to lead people. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a supervisor in the Air Force who possessed that rare combination of getting the mission done but also taking care of the people. Chief Kelly was a small black man who had the presence of a seven-foot Commander. When he walked into your office, you felt his presence before you saw him.
Chief Kelly was not an arrogant or egotistical man. He was a leader in every sense of the definition of leadership. Chief Kelly made people want to do their best, but not by bullying them or belittling them. He put in long hours at work and walked into everyone’s office to chat with them for a minute or so. Sometimes, it may have been for thirty seconds if he was busy, but he let you know that he valued you as a person and as a human being. He ended up being my best mentor in the last couple of years in my Air Force career. Looking back, I wish he had been my mentor in my earlier years when I was learning how to be a supervisor and how to motivate people who were ok with being an average worker.
These days, many employees contact me to complain about their bosses. So many of them tell me stories that are trending of harassment and discrimination. Yes—there are good bosses out there in the workforce, but it’s a living nightmare to the employees who work for bully bosses and have three more years before they can retire from their company. The toll it takes on the employee who is being mistreated is high. I have never seen anyone want to give their “all” to a boss who mistreats them. It’s not the pay that keeps people in the workplace; it’s how they are treated by their coworkers and supervisors that matters.
Trust is a two-way street. Employees and employers are having trust issues with each other. There has never been a better time for both sides to work with each other to gain trust and engagement. Camaraderie is generally higher when people are happy and feel confident in their workplace. The cost of replacing a good employee can create a burden on a company. When you factor in the cost of finding a new replacement, onboarding, and training them, you may be looking at thousands of dollars to hire a new employee. Investing in people can be as simple as bringing in a coach, mentor or consultant that can help a company build trust and respect between the employers and employee.
What’s Next? Talk with others. Take action.
We are proud of our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to discuss, gain insights, build communities— and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join below!
Photo courtesy Pixabay.