“She asked me for a title and I figured since it didn’t cost me anything, why not?”
This was a response from a client I consider to be a great leader. Every leader from time to time simply doesn’t have the energy to deal with every petty request and often will give in or turn their back when consequences seem to be less bothersome than the action.
However, the consequences to these actions are often far greater than you might imagine. Just like every parent who raises a child you have pick your battles, but always be consistent. If you give in too often they (kids and employees) will take advantage of you, not to mention that if you give to one the others will all want part of the action. Before you know it, you have lost control of the whole bunch. It’s a long fight back to control if you let them run too wild.
So, what is the boss to do? Begin by realizing that your job is not to give them everything they want but what they need (parents . . . sound familiar?).
Your Role as the Boss
Part of balancing your management style is to know what it is that makes you a fair boss, and where you can start to draw the line. As a manager, your job is to:
Protect Your Employees
This includes making sound business decisions on everything from office policies to salary increases.
A sustainable business gives them a place to work. A business with clear policies and procedures that are enforced assures them a safe environment. Addressing poor behavior from employees that impact the work environment for all the others makes them feel you “have their back.”
Be Fair to Your Team
That means applying the same standards to everyone.
It includes not giving in to the demands of an employee that asks for something unreasonable (work from home, more money, accommodations) that you would not give to all others even if their value to your company is great.
You simply cannot give anything that is suggested just to keep them happy (even if they throw a tantrum . . . kick and scream . . . hold their breath . . . refuse to cooperate). Remind them that you are a fair boss. Send them to their room to contemplate how they will behave.
Do What You Say You Will
In weak moments or when confronted, it is not uncommon to try and smooth over a situation by making vague promises or suggestions of actions you might take later when calmer heads prevail, or conveniently forget or simply to never address a matter again. To your employees that is a promise broken.
Take Responsibility & Be Direct
The buck stops with you. Blaming anything on another is the same as saying, “I do not really care. Go ask your mother/father,” knowing they will most likely say “no.”
As their leader, you are the one they want to hear from. Take the time to give them a direct answer and a reason ~ not an excuse ~ a reason. “A promotion is not appropriate for you right now. You have not met the qualifications for the next level. I am delighted you want to advance and will be happy to work with you to develop a plan that will get you there.”
Love Them No Matter What
Just because they put you in a situation to have to make tough decisions does not mean they won’t be great employees. Just like children, they are testing your boundaries.
This is particularly true if they are relatively new to the workplace. Younger, less experienced employees will often be bolder in their requests. Just like with children you have to show them where the lines are drawn and then let it go.
Be Consistent in Your Management Style
Being the boss is not an easy job. You often do not get “in the moment” advice and have to make snap decisions.
When possible, take your time but always be consistent. Once policies are established you must stick to them. That is the easiest way to be sure you are applying fairness to the entire group. When a request you have not been confronted with comes up, just ask for a little time to think it over and then be direct when the decision is made and add it to the policies so you don’t have to think about it again.
About Northwest Coaching Group
When you’re faced with tough decisions regarding how to manage your employees and could use advice on how you can be a better boss, a business coach could be the perfect solution!
At the Northwest Coaching Group, we help leaders evaluate their management styles and make improvements in order to cultivate a business environment that works best for their goals and vision. Reach out to learn how a business coach can help you!