October 12, 2015

Bosses Behaving Badly


Is it the pressure? The power? The profit-motive? One thing’s for sure — supervisors who mistreat their subordinates are not focused on the people.

When has it become acceptable for bosses to behave so badly? A position of power over the decisions and direction in an organization is a responsibility and a reward that must be respected. Too many bosses have become so bottom-line oriented that they’ve forgotten how to manage themselves and lead others to achieve collective goals. Are there reasons for bad behavior — sure. Are any of those excuses merited – nope.

So here’s a list of 10 tools to keep in mind when managing people:

1. Be a self-manager first.
We have to manage our own emotions and moods, and gain clarity on our needs before we begin to communicate with our co-workers.
2. Be a role model.
People are listening to us and watching us. What are they hearing and seeing us say and do? Are we impeccable with our words? Are we doing our best?
3. Put people first.
People perform projects and not the other way around. When we take good care of our people, they’re 100% more likely to produce great results.
4. Praise people’s good work.
What we give attention to will grow and flourish. A one-minute acknowledgement that is sincere and heartfelt is remembered for a long time and replaces negative feelings that hinder individuals’ achievement.
5. Be the first to admit a mistake.
Make room for mistakes by admitting your own. We’re people, not robots, and we learn and improve by failing forward. The point is to make new mistakes, not repeat old ones.
6. Keep reprimands short and focused on the action, not the person.
We should definitely let people know when we’re unhappy with their work product, but within the frame that we have seen them do so much better.
7. Create a safe space at work.
When people are afraid, they make mistakes, they don’t ask important questions, they doubt themselves, and they lose their confidence to perform at their best. Strive to create an environment that is open and trusting.
8. Set clear goals and expectations.
When we assume that people know or should know what we want of them, we’re setting everyone up for failure. Having a frequent written or oral conversation about priorities is essential to effective management.
9. Make sure people are appropriately skilled and challenged.
When the task is too challenging for an individual’s skill set, that person becomes anxious and overwhelmed. When an individual is overqualified to perform their tasks, s/he becomes bored and complacent. A manager’s role is to develop their employees’ skills and keep them challenged. (See Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Modelfor more on this).
10. Replace demands with requests.
We don’t like to be taskedbut we love being challenged or respectfully asked. Phrasing a request with “will you please” is much more motivating than “do this now.”


Lee Broekman is an author, professor, trainer and coach. Her company Organic Communication, brings interactive, never boring, always edifying presentations and programs — focused on communication, collaboration and innovation — to your firm or organization.

Find her latest book Successful (Happy) Lawyering on