Note to Jerky Leaders: How to mend a hostile work environment

June 13 – 18 is Be a Better Leader Week!

According the U.S. Department of Labor and E.E.O.C. employee harassment becomes unlawful where:

  1. Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or
  2. The conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. This is every Human Resource Managers worst nightmare because it is the employee’s ‘perception of the situation.’

JerksHere are some reminders and ideas for leaders concerning immediate improvement to situations that can result in reduced productivity, low morale and potential lawsuits. Problem? Some Jerky Leaders don’t get it and never will.  Others understand that it is within their scope to improve the work environment.

  1. Understand emotional intelligence (EI). This is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Think of it as three simple ideas:
    1.  Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others. Action: stay calm, don’t show anger, control your language and build an environment of respect, trust and mutual understanding.
    2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks such as thinking and problems solving. Action: Be a good listener, don’t interrupt, ask questions and communicate professionally . . . every day, with every encounter.
    3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person. Action: Constantly flex communication style to that of the other person, learn how to resolve all conflict (yours and theirs), never show anger, and motivate to build morale. And never scream, yell or have loud outbursts.
  1. Request continued clarification from your superior on expectations, goals and specific criteria. Encourage honest feedback from others (superiors, colleagues and subordinates) without being defensive, interrupting or making excuses. Help others clarify expectations needed for superior job performance. Face to face is the best way to continue this dialogue, however, ANY mode of communication is better than none. Action: Ask how you are doing frequently.
  1. Eliminate favoritism and help all employees grow – not just the ‘stars’, providing resources, coaching and training to help them see that are there to make them successful, not to fire them. Determine their long-term goals as well as short term to discover what you can do to help them. Have frequent casual meetings to build a relationship. And never, ever gossip – EVER! Action: Ask others how you are doing and stay open for what you really don’t want to hear.
  1. Keep your leader in the loop. Never go over their head, unless they know you are for a specific reason. Involve them by discussing potential solutions to your already dissected problem or issue. Set up specific times to just review all that is going on.  Action: Schedule this in your planner for every morning – just make the connection.
  1. Use a behavioral assessment tool like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to develop self- awareness and leverage the information to professional development. This will also help optimize people power for the team and company.
  1. Use a leadership scorecard, or your Human Resource department may already have some type of 360° used by your company.  If you would like to receive the Leadership Scorecard I use, please email me  I can send it in a Word format to customize it to your particular situation.

The point here is – DO SOMETHING! Jerky leaders create turnover, lower productivity and poor morale. What other ideas do you have to help jerks at work (especially when in a leadership role) understand what needs to change?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers, Marsha

Marsha Petrie Sue
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Professional Speaker, Executive Coach, Best Selling Author


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