Perhaps It’s Time for Meaner Bosses

1 Jul


Did you ever consider that, just maybe, the pendulum has swung too far in our efforts to create a softer and gentler work environment in an effort to show “mutual respect” between managers and their employees? Why do I ask this? A recent survey of an audience of HR professionals who are primarily based in Manhattan and neighboring states revealed that only 30% of the managers in their respective organizations hold their employees accountable for successes as well as failures on the job.

Pertinent to this disturbing new statistic, just recently, a consulting opportunity for me arose where the primary issue revolved around an increasing number of bosses in an accounting organization who weren’t staying on top of what their employees were doing or, for that matter, not doing! In other words, a lot of workers were not getting sufficiently complimented for what they did well, and many more were not being called on the carpet for failing to do what was expected of them. Quality of work seemed to be diminishing as indicated by an increasing number of client complaints. The company viewed the situation as a trend that desperately needed immediate managerial attention and one that seemed not so much a problem with the worker bees as it was with those who managed them.

It may be time to press the reset button for the boss/worker relationship and reexamine bosses’ roles within the scope of the advancing Millennial generation who are rapidly replacing the managerial hierarchy in many organizations. What’s urgently needed is to take a look at whether, and how, bosses are fulfilling their roles. For starters, are they meeting with their employees on a consistent basis and are those meetings truly productive? Next, after assigning tasks, are bosses keeping track of assignments and do they follow up with their employees to make sure that the work is being completed on time and with accuracy. Being a “good boss” isn’t just about being “nice”, although complimenting employees for a job well done is important because it shows gratitude and respect.

Bosses also need to say something when the work isn’t completed properly. That’s right – bosses need to invest time finding out what’s going on and what’s possibly interfering with the employee’s ability to get quality work done and to offer some guidance and tips along the way. Occasionally, these discussions may include criticism. To many, bosses who criticize are considered tough or even “mean” when, in reality, criticism that is given properly actually enhances the trust factor in relationships and employees come to know and respect the fact that bosses care.

How to properly give and receive criticism is something few in the new ranks of organizations have learned. But, it needs to be taught! The last I heard, the business environment is becoming more competitive – not less, as we become even more global. So, now more than ever, we need bosses to fulfill their roles and if that means that they need to be “meaner” – then, so be it!

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).



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