A Failed Business Culture Starts at the Top

Recently I was at lunch with a colleague talking about business and our future career plans.  We were talking about the business she works for and how she is feeling burned out and considering switching jobs.  The company she works for has a lot of potential for growth but also a lot of staffing, process, and management issues.  She recently stepped down from her management role at the company as she felt that she was not cut for management.  After talking for a while longer I realized that the issue was not her lack of management skills and experience, it was an issue of the business culture failing due to poor management.  The lack of management who appreciate, nurture, and lead its employees was leading to burned out employees and wasted potential.

There are many traits of a poor manager but we are just going to focus on a few that I feel are the main reasons a company may experience a failing culture. Unfortunately some of these traits I have experienced first hand or have contributed to myself.

Managers or owners who;
– are threatened by their employees ideas – 
We have all worked for this person before; you have an idea on how a process can be improved or a new tool or idea to increase business. You pitch it to your manager and they immediately, without even considering it, poke holes in your idea, sometimes even laughing and putting you down.  What is even worse is when they do it in front of co workers.

– think they know everything – If you assume you know everything you will never learn more or grow.  I worked with a man who appeared to know everything there was to know about our industry.  Every time anyone tried to tell or show him something new he would say it doesn’t work. Then he would be proven wrong and all of a sudden change his answer. Not only do you block yourself from learning, you look like a fool to your employees.

– always say no – At a previous job I had a department lead who always said no. I would ask her if she could get something done, she would say I don’t think so or hum and hah with reasons why it wouldn’t work or she couldn’t.  Her negativity got to be an issue with other employees and upper management so in an effort to save her job I asked her to start saying “yes, and” or “yes, however” and then expressing her concern. Just switching her mindset from a negative to a positive not only helped her attitude but it made her more approachable to her employees and co workers.

– gets overly stressed and shuts down – I am guilty of this as well.  I will be overly caught up in something or just not in a social mood so I will be short with my employees. The issue is that employees wonder why you didn’t greet them this morning or why you had RBF all day.  As a boss you really don’t get time to yourself or get to be in a bad mood as your employees depend on you to be the strong one.  No one wants to be afraid of their boss, they want to feel appreciated everyday so you don’t get to take a day off to be grumpy, sorry.

As a manager or owner all eyes are on you at all times.  You don’t get to have a bad day, you don’t get to whine, you don’t get to be stressed and shut down. Why? Mostly because you have to set a good example but also because no one cares!  They know you make more money than they do so they feel that you should just suck it up and do your job, which is to manage and lead with a smile on your face. When you throw a temper tantrum or don’t feel like being social one day your employees feel it.  They wonder what they did wrong or if its common for you to be in a bad mood they will roll their eyes and mumble “here we go again”.  If you want to have a strong and positive culture at your company you have to always project that.  You have to listen to your employees and entertain their ideas.  Otherwise your good employees will be looking for jobs where they feel like they matter.

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