Are the humans you employ letting you down?
As an employer, it’s inevitable there will be times when employees need to be rounded up and pointed in the right direction. After all, people are people. They make mistakes; they can be selfish and thoughtless; and there may always something you will wish different or would like to change.
How you handle these problems will make a difference in whether you earn the respect of your employees or direct them secretly (possibly on your time) to find a new employer.
What do your employees work for?
Employees it appears, do not work for the business, they work for people (that’s you). All employers might agree that the business wellbeing should be every employee’s concern. However, it isn’t the business’ wellbeing they’ll commit to but the wellbeing of the people they work for.
You see, people are not designed to logically assess circumstances first and then implement the correct response. If they were, in the past, the time it took to assess the best outcome could be the difference between life and death. Interestingly, most of our initial reactions are involuntarily, driven primarily by our endocrine system that produces the chemicals necessary to survival (Eg: Fight or flight.)
A big part of this need to survive is our ability to fit in with a group. Our endocrine system, responsible for firing off chemicals to stimulate among other things, fight or flight, also drives many other primary behaviours, reactions and responses. It’s all a part of how we perceive security and safety. Clearly, fitting in with a group is safer than being in isolation.
So why the biology lesson?
What I’d like to explain is why it might seem like your employees don’t get ‘it’. Why they always seem to be pulling against you. And why, your ongoing attempts to build a positive culture are being frustrated by a lack of employee buy-in.
As an employer, the need to control and manage people by insisting they consider the business’ needs before people needs is counter intuitive. After all, a business’ base function is to provide a positive return for it’s owners. How it goes about doing that, the goods or services it provides, are simply a mechanism to generate the return.
Your business might have a well considered vision and mission, however unless you can encourage your employees to logically buy-in to the ‘unseen’, you need to make a genuine commitment to engage them on a more personal level. At this more personal level, your employees should be more inclined to work with you rather than pulling against you simply because, that’s how people work.
You’re asking me to prove it?
There’s a great deal of research been done to identify why people change jobs. It tends to strongly identify poor management or negative experiences such as a bad boss or lack of appreciation as the high-ranking motivators for change. It’s unlikely in a well performing business with approachable management that employees will look for another position unless it’s to improve their career prospects.
Building a stable, happy work force that generates positive cultural benefits throughout the entire organization can only be done from the tip down. However, it’s often the ‘tip’s’ own arrogance (because they’re the tip) that stops them from considering their own behaviour might be the reason for a negative or even hostile work culture.
Holding too tightly to the perception that it’s your business and you can do whatever pleases you, is to create in your employees a perfect storm of endocrine activity. Activity over which neither you nor they have any control.
If you’ve ever wondered why your employees always seem to be pulling against you it is quite possibly a reflection of how they see management. We’re all more likely to reflect someone’s behaviour back to them and now the science to supports it. The need to fit in drives human behaviour.
We’re safer in groups.
A person’s need to be seen as a member of the group will make them sway to popular opinion.
If your organisation’s culture is anti-management, almost every new employee brought in will drift irretrievably toward that belief. This is because they want to be included as a member of the group. Even though initially they might think the management is great, their need to assimilate and demonstrate solidarity will usually lead them down the negative cultural path to agreeing fully with the group.
Everyone needs to know how important I am.
With few exceptions, human beings have an almost obsessive need to signal their status. (Think, expensive designer clothing, jewelry or fast cars.) This need to signal our ‘higher’ status (originally to attract a mate) means we take it very seriously when we feel our status is being threatened or we are reminded of our lower place in the hierarchy. Employees who are criticized publicly (even as a group) will most likely respond to the criticism in unhelpful ways that will interfere with the development of a positive culture.
People need to feel they are important and employers should understand that continually demonstrating to employees that they are expendable will not only make employees unhappy it will make management unhappy too!
Dumb and dumbest!
Interestingly, research shows human beings tend to show less intelligence in group situations. Reminding employees they are lower on the intellectual scale will in many cases actually cause them to become functionally less capable. In the workplace this might mean that you are sabotaging any effort you are making to improve employee output and efficiency by reminding them of their mistakes.
We’re more likely to believe what the group thinks rather than our own opinion. If your employee group believes you’re a poor manager, it’s unlikely anyone will think differently. They’ll rationalise the group’s perception making it almost impossible to improve the quality of work.
So, it’s possible you’re thinking this ‘herd mentality’ is for people who aren’t that smart. That’s why they’re employees and not employers. However, the sad fact is, that no matter where you sit on the IQ scale you will be subject to all these human ‘frailties’ for the simple reason that it’s our biology that determines most of our behaviours.
If you’ve ever worried about what to wear or what to say. If you’ve ever withheld your opinion because it differs from the rest of the group. If you ever felt belittled by someone or over reacted to criticism or correction. These are the emotions delivered up via your endocrine system through a series of neurotransmitters, dendrites, synapses and neurons that operate outside your control.
In the workplace all these emotions are alive and well. From a manager’s need to prove they’re the boss to an employees need to feel as if they’re contributing to the business goals.
Copyright 2017 deb shugg
Deb Shugg is a recognised and awarded businesswoman and managing director of Australian Business Experts
BRW Top 50 Female Entrepreneur
SmartCompany To 50 Business.
Franchise Council Franchise Woman of the Year
BRW Fastest Growing B2B Franchise