Written by Evi Idoghor
One day during an intense morning meeting, I was summoned to the middle of the conference room to receive a whip-lashing from my boss at the time. I handled a project for a client and delivered sub-par work—in my defense, what the project required was far-flung my area of expertise. My boss screamed at the top of his lungs while everyone (both and old and new employees) sat in solitude, watching me languish in despair. My old sins were brought up, and future sins, anticipated.
For someone who vehemently detests any form of confrontation, that scenario was a hard pill for me to swallow. I kept mum as he went on and on. I believe what aggravated him the most was that I practiced restraint from engaging in a war of words. At the end of the screaming match, which he only engaged in, I walked out of the conference room and immediately, tears began to flow when some of my colleagues expressed empathy—I couldn’t remember the last time someone addressed me in that manner.
As little kids, we were thought to refrain from hitting, screaming, or being mean to others; however, in adulthood, some people lose the art of compassion when they assume their position as “boss.” This is not to say that a boss shouldn’t call out an employee when they fall short, misbehave, or refuse to pull their weight, nonetheless, I believe that there are better ways to tackle certain issues in the workplace.
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Some might argue that perhaps the reason for a boss lashing out is as a result of a bad day they are having, but, if everyone express the way they feel due to some private issues they face away from work, then the work environment would be toxic. Instead of making excuses for unacceptable behavior, there should be traits—that of compassion, bosses should emulate, to create a better, safer, and healthier environment for their employees to thrive in.
“The driving forces of exceptional leadership are desire, self-awareness and, most important, compassion. Effective leadership cannot prevail under negative circumstances such as putdowns, dishonesty, demands, frustration, denigration, manipulation, fear or micromanagement.
These negative forces create high turnover, a lack of productivity, a lack of motivation and a negative attitude in those required to produce.” —Entrepreneur.com
Below are some important key drivers to help foster compassion in leadership.
1) Leaders don’t demean your employees especially in the presence of others: if you detest your spouse disrespecting you in public, then you ought to manage issues with your staff members as private as possible. If you demean your staff, it makes them question their abilities, sink into a hole, and create a wedge between you two. Your employees are not robots but real people with real feelings.
On that particular day whilst I was on the hot seat, my work was compared to that of others, and all the effort I had put into various projects that succeeded were unacknowledged. In fact, he went ahead to credit others for the project I had executed successfully.
What made the event all the more fascinating was the fact that he had already called me on the phone to express his disappointment—as a result I effected the necessary changes, however, he still felt the need to tear me to shreds in front of others—not cool. I began avoiding him after that incident; it took me a while to recover from it.
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
– Frank A. Clark
2) Provide constructive feedback rather than an emotional one: I understand that money goes into the effectual running of a business and if you have employees who can disrupt your business instead of adding value to it, of course, you need to have a serious conversation with them. However, if you know that this is not the usual behavior of your staff member, call them aside in the privacy of your office and find out what exactly is happening.
You can express your disappointment in a way that will encourage the employee to do better. If you start out by highlighting their strengths, then go ahead to show them where you have a problem with them, then your feedback will be received much better. But, if you cannot contain your emotions like I pointed out earlier, it will create a wedge between you and your staff, and no business actually wants that.
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
—Richard Branson - founder of The Virgin Group
3) Leaders, your staff members are the bedrock of your organization: I have oftentimes heard of terrorizing stories about how employers treat their employees. Some ask you to run personal errands, while some are not even invested in your growth. I am not saying that everyone should be besties in the workplace; however, treating your employees with compassion will make them feel needed, valued, and appreciated.
Once you give off the notion that an employee is easily replaceable, that is when you begin to lose them. Again, have standards, set them, communicate them effectively, but by all means, understand that an employer-employee relationship is a mutually beneficial one.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. —Dale Carnegie
4) Practice emotional intelligence: as a boss, you should know when, where, and how to speak with your employees. When you show them that you value their opinion, then they begin to trust you and will stay committed to your vision.
“And you masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” —Ephesians 6:9 (NKJV)
5) Desist from threatening your employees: there are some employers who always threaten their staff members with firing them, cutting their pay, or demotion. They use these fear tactics to keep their employees in check. However, it shouldn’t be so. You are communicating to them that they are dispensable. And if a person knows that they are easily dispensable, they will begin to research other opportunities (behind your back), and slowly your organization will empty out.
I currently don’t own an organization that employs people; however, I have employed the services of artisans and domestic workers. I always (at least I try to) evaluate the way I treat them, because I can’t have a problem with my boss treating me a certain way, then turn around and do the same to others. It makes no sense. In conclusion—treat people the way you want to be treated—your organization will be better for it.
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