You have been working in a company for a few years. Six months ago you were asked to join a team on a new project. You were assigned a new project manager. Over time you discovered that this new project manager had a very poor view of leadership.Your boss saw his role as a person who should shout at people to get work done.
The only thing you heard from him was criticism. He was never pleased, no matter how well you worked and how good your ideas were. Your boss thought of himself as a person with high standards and others simply cannot produce to that standard, but they have to try as hard as they can.
This philosophy of management started to bother you a lot as you slowly lost interest in the project. You felt no matter what you do, your inputs are not appreciated since it can never compare to this artificial and subjective high standard. You never heard any praise. All the manager ever saw was faults.
It seemed to you that he didn’t understand management at all and he was simply acting out the stereotype manager that he might have seen in some TV series.
Increasingly, the environment became hostile with a lot of confrontations, back stabbing, office politics, name calling and blaming until the team literally self-destructed.
Now, nothing gets done without hours of wasteful discussions as everyone wants to avoid future blame and cover their backs rather than doing any actual work.
Team members seem to be eager to pass on the work to others than to do it themselves so if manager was not pleased with the work, he wouldn’t blame it on them. You could see what is coming as a result and you wanted to get out of this before it got any uglier.
How to Improve Teamwork, Leadership and Workplace Productivity
Many people may find themselves in such circumstances and fortunately there are ways out. The important point to notice is that both sides, the manager and the team members, are responsible to get themselves out of this mess.
The problem is generally lack of emotional intelligence. This manifest itself differently depending on the roles, but the end result is the same; miscommunication, drop in productivity and increasing frustration.
Emotional intelligence has six main competencies:
Those with poor emotional intelligence are likely to be poor in one or more of these areas. A critical competency is self-awareness. If people don’t know that their actions are causing problems, they will not do anything about it.
Hence, when you are confronted with a situation that you are not happy with, the first question to ask is to see what you might have contributed that lead to the current situation. Strong self-awareness helps you to become proactive which in turn helps you to change your behaviour so that you can get different results.
What to Do if You Are Not Happy With Your Boss
Your boss may not be aware of the consequences of his behaviour. The first step is to simply make him aware of it. Arrange to see your boss and aim to discuss the issue with him. Don’t go with an intention to complain or criticise.
Instead, go with an intention to inform. A manager with poor emotional intelligence may not know how you feel about a certain behaviour and your first step is to help him to understand your situation.
Give specific examples. Don’t be vague and general. Be specific and do not exaggerate. Don’t say, “You always do so and so…” This is confrontational and it is likely to be false because it is absolute. Instead say, “On Tuesday, when you said to me X, I felt Y…”
Explain the consequences of their actions. Sometimes a manger may not be aware that all they do is criticising. In their mind, they may think they are actually being helpful while in reality their persistent criticism may discourage you from contributing in the future.
Simply explain this politely and most people immediately understand what has been happening and they can then take appropriate action.
Give time to your manager to adopt. Don’t expect them to change overnight and suddenly become an example manager. Like everyone else, it might take them some time to get rid of their bad habits. Your role is to remind them periodically so they stay on course and improve.
If your boss did not improve over time, despite your efforts and persistence in helping them, you may need to get other people’s help. Arrange to see a person from HR and talk in confidence about your relationship with your boss. Don’t put your view as a complaint; instead seek to get advice on how to handle the situation.
You aim is to win your boss over and end up with a better team and management. Simply ask others to advice you on how you can help your boss to achieve this. This approach has two other benefits. You get to share your story with others and get it out of your system.
Many people would feel much better after sharing their stories with a good listener. The other benefit is that you get to let others know what you are going through which means you can get invaluable advice from them on how to handle the situation.
Get HR to provide and promote books on emotional intelligence and communication skills. This can be an effective and affordable solution for the organisation.
The book promotion must be followed by a book club style meeting to get people talk about what they found interesting in the book and also make sure that they actually read the book.
A great approach in enhancing communication at the workplace is to get HR to consider sending staff and the management to Emotional Intelligence training courses so they can work on their soft skills. Other courses such as leadership skills, communication skills and interpersonal skills can also be useful.
As an option, HR can also buy Emotional Intelligence Training Materials, Leadership Skills Training Materials or other training resources to run these soft skills courses in house for a larger number of delegates while reducing costs. For further details on these training materials, what they contain and how they can help, see the resource box below.