Is it you that affects your team’s performance and staff turnover? The answer is, of course, yes! But are you doing it the way you think? “But I’m a great person to get on with, and I don’t cause staffing problems”. Being the bad or grumpy boss may not be the worst thing you can do.
A while ago I wrote about how freeze thaw action causes problems on our roads(OMG, really?), and how it the same thing affects your staff. The point being it’s very often the variability in “the boss’s” temperament that causes the problem, rather than always being like Mr Scrooge (or any other unpleasant person you can think of that’s in charge).
What happens when you’re an inconsistent boss?
The effects of inconsistency are never positive, and you’ll see things like:
- Your employees disengage. Yes, that’s a current buzz word (once upon a time we just said “they don’t care”). In practice, some of your team are not trying as hard as they can. This is hard to deal with, because they’re never your biggest problem (till you look back). ‘Disengaged’, means client service drops (just a bit) and other hard to quantify things (just a bit). In times of change (like today) it’s harder to get them to change, they’re not helping you and they certainly don’t come up with new ideas.
- Need direction all the time. Most people don’t want to get things wrong, so when they don’t know how you’ll react, it’s easier to always ask you what to do. If you enjoy managing every detail, that works out well; if you’re trying to grow your firm, there’s a problem. How many times do you get asked “have you got 5 minutes please…”? Why – because they don’t know what you want.
- Look elsewhere. Faced with regular uncertainty, never knowing if you’ll be happy or complaining; people realise their lives could be easier elsewhere. When they leave, they still say nice things about you (after all, sometimes you’re a great guy). Of course, the replacement team member soon gets trained (go on, read about the five monkeys and think about it) and the cycle starts again as your firm gets slowly worse.
There is no point in having team away-days when things are like this, until you’ve checked to see if you’re to blame.
Six ideas for improving your staff turnover.
- Attitude: Prepare your attitude every morning, before work. One client sits in his car for a few minutes mentally running through how he will deal with people from the moment he steps out of the car until he climbs back in at night.
- Stop and think: Give yourself more breathing space before reacting. Ask yourself, “does my do tally with my tell?” In other words, make sure you are doing as you say, more often.
- Get feedback: Make it good for some (all?) team members to tell you when you are being inconsistent. It may help you and the team learn more about each other. It’s a good way to ‘look in the mirror’
- A decision journal: Write down your big decisions (or little), with a note about why you did them. If you revisit earlier decisions, you will be surprised at rationale behind some of them, and it might stop you changing course. You might even start revisiting them to see how good they were (that used to be called post project appraisal).
- Treat people equally: Ask yourself where you have double standards in your management of approach. Giving one person a break, whilst complaining bitterly about standards to everyone else is confusing (and annoying) to your team. If you’re letting somebody off lightly for good reasons, that’s OK, but be aware! Accountability and fairness are only achievable through a single standard.
- Boiling blood: If you start to feel your blood boiling (probably with good reasons), how can you give yourself time to calm down, get a different perspective and respond more calmly?
Are you as consistent as you like to be, and what are your first steps for changing that?