Tough Times Require Tough Leadership
Events are out of our control. Tornados. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Nuclear meltdowns. The economy. We are vulnerable. It makes us anxious about the future.
In today’s increasingly complex world, even rock-solid workers are likely to have times when their lives are affected by crisis. At some point, you probably will be faced with an employee's family, financial, legal or health crisis. The skill and humanness exhibited by you, the leader, will be important in the final outcome. Balancing your interest in employees without getting too deeply into their lives requires good judgment and tact. It’s important to care about employees. People who are cared for in turn show caring to others. They work more efficiently and are more congenial. Effective leaders have empathy - the ability to understand and respond to others, to see the world from someone else’s perspective, to step into their shoes.
Perhaps you believe that work and personal life should be separate. You may have been told to keep a healthy distance from employees. Be careful - because the work environment has changed. Work is more than a job and a paycheck. It is a place where people spend 30, 40, 50, 60 or more hours together a week. Good leaders know more about their employees than just the work they do. And employees expect some compassion from bosses and co-workers. They need personal validation. Being impersonal signals disinterest and a lack of caring, and is as risky as being overly involved.
In his book, Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman describes empathy as the key to retaining talent. Although a positive relationship with a boss is not enough to produce worker productivity, it can significantly contribute to it. And the absence of sensitivity can lead an employee out the door. At the same time, you need to strike the right note in your interpersonal relations with your staff. It is important to be approachable and friendly, yet fair and firm.
It may be that you are worried about saying the “wrong thing,” such as:
Those statements minimize a person’s pain and convey a lack of interest on your part. The impact is negative and potentially damaging to your relationship.
So how should you handle the situation?
1. Be Understanding
2. Ask Employees How They Are Doing
3. Pay Attention
4. Be Objective
5. Meet With The Employee
Be curious about how your team is feeling. Morning huddles are excellent times to get a quick pulse on the mood and mindset of your team. Of course, keep quiet about personal problems employees bring to you. It’s important to respect confidentiality. Some subjects are not matters of public discussion in the workplace.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
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