How do you handle a boss that leads by directive?

There are bosses who will strut around and issue directives. They have a huge fear of people and rely upon their dictatorial manner instead of learning how to make requests of others. Fearful leaders often make poor decisions because they are not open to others’ input and fail to learn how to talk with and through others to bridge gaps in ideas and create workable, practical solutions. As the employee or part of the executive team, help avoid troubling edicts by meeting the boss more than halfway. Provide ample facts and human solutions to persuade the decisions toward a more appropriate outcome.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

What have you effectively done to work with a dictatorial boss?

Don’t be afraid to “push into” a conversation.

Many times we fail to ask the right questions. Even worse, we fail to listen for the true answers. Don’t be afraid to ask good questions before making decisions and probe to ensure you are on the same page with your employees, clients and bosses. Push into the conversation by asking the questions people are afraid to ask for fear that someone will get upset or be non-responsive. A good way to handle potential conflict is to let people know before asking a question that they may not like what you’re about to ask! That approach will usually deflect negativity and open up the conversation.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Fearful Bosses

Many bosses today have become fearful of losing their jobs and being unable to find equivalent or better ones. They spend more time manipulating others’ perceptions of their worth in order to keep their jobs than achieving the required results. Their lack of commitment to the company, its employees, customers, and communities usually turns their fears into the reality of becoming unemployed! As a boss, remember that if employees are not doing their work, it’s a reflection of your management style. If you are not achieving the results, you are not taking the right, focused action steps. If you are blaming others for your challenges, you are probably not in the right job! Get help now! Hire a coach and develop clarity to do the right work.  

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Should you become a boss?

Many business professionals today aspire to become a boss. Many want this type of recognition for the increase in pay, status, or a better office. Unfortunately, these objectives will not make anyone a great leader. In fact, many bosses are fired within their first six months in their new job, and many others fail because their employees resent their lack of management finesse. Poor leadership abilities make it difficult for new bosses to get the job done.

Being the boss requires you have very good people and project management skills. Many business professionals don’t want to work that hard! Or, they’re fearful they may lose friends who were formerly co-workers. Alternatively, your new employees may veto your style when comparing you to their last boss. In those cases, it may be better for you to be a leader without the boss title.

Should you become a boss? It requires a new level of responsibilities, skills, and attitudes. If you are willing to make unpopular decisions, develop a commitment to all of your employees without bias, learn how to create and manage budgets, and facilitate projects in a global market with rigor while paying attention to details and motivating your team, then, yes, you should. (Remember, this list is not exhaustive!) Being a boss can have many rewards and is often required on your way up the ladder to the C-Suite.

Here are some prerequisites:

First, become clear if being a boss is the right career path for you. Career derailment can be hard to overcome in an interview, either for a different management job or as an independent contributor, after having been deemed a poor manager.

Second, hire a coach who has strengths in the specific areas where you need help. Take a qualified assessment to help you better understand your inherent strengths and weaknesses as a potential boss. A qualified 360-degree feedback tool can also enlighten the process of improving your skills.

Third, be willing to do the work in a manner that bodes well for your current employer, as well as your future opportunities. Remember, successful bosses put the success of the company and its employees first!

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Are you a trustworthy boss?

I recently received a call from a new boss who wanted to know what type of “penalties” he should apply because his employees were not responding to his emails fast enough.

The more important question would be why are they not responding? Are they unclear about his request and timeline? Are they incredibly busy handling his clients’ needs? Does he have a bad tendency to make all his requests “Urgent?” Although his employees might not see his management style as autocratic now, it won’t take long for them to stop trusting him if he relies upon “threats” to get the job done.

The bottom line is that in order to build a company of loyal employees, you need to create a level of trust between you and each of your employees. Continually threatening people with loss of jobs, perks, or being written up, will only cause them to lose their trust in you. It’s hard for employees to do their work when they are fearful.

Emails. If you need to send additional requests, mark them “Second Request,” THIRD Request,” or FOURTH REQUEST at the beginning of the subject line. If it is Urgent, do the same. However, don’t use these terms often or they lose their attention grabbing effect. Normally give them at least 24 to 48 hours to respond. If it’s not urgent, provide a suggested “due date” for their response.

Pick Up the Phone. If it is truly urgent or complicated, or you don’t have strong writing skills, call them. Person-to-person dialogue often prevents misunderstandings. It’s your responsibility as the boss to exercise persuasive listening skills to ensure your employees understand what you are requesting.

Quality of Work. If someone does not have the skills to do the work, simply sending it back along with an implied or even overt threat will not get you the quality of work required. Take time and walk them through exactly what you need, and the format you need it in (e.g., Word, Excel, numbers, graphs, columns, etc.). Keep your requirements simple if someone is developing their skills.

A woman with specialized technical skills was hired by a company to help them avoid lawsuits. However, her manner of interacting with the management team had them failing to respond to her demands. Instead of her boss talking with her and offering her guidance, he simply waited until the lawsuit had been averted and fired her!

Coaching. Simply getting what you need from someone and firing them without warning only compels others not trust you or your leadership style. If someone needs help to improve interpersonal, management and/or project skills, provide them with the necessary training. Arrange for their own coach (from outside the company) to help them excel in their current position or as they move through a necessary job transition.

Bottom line? When people are not responding in a respectful manner and are busy taking copious notes, there is no trust. Work with your business advisor and take an objective look.  What do you need to transform in your approach and management style to be a leader who elicits trust, a leader others want to follow.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

How do you manage talent incompetence?

We’ve all had to work around them, to the detriment of the organization or clients. These troublemakers refuse to work well with certain people and blame others for their own inadequate skills. They make it impossible to resolve issues since they believe they have the authority to say “no” and use it too often. They can wreak havoc on any business if left alone to do what they want, if they want.

Why not simply fire them? It may be due to longevity, specialized job knowledge, or they simply know where the company skeletons lie. They fail to take responsibility and know how to manage their boss. Their false sense of bravado may have started with overly positive performance appraisals, an over-inflation of their abilities reinforced by a boss with poor managerial skills. They refuse to develop their skill-sets to keep up with industry or profession changes.  Or they may rely upon manipulating the system and/or their boss for their own interests. This type of chronic behavior makes it difficult for employers to take corrective action. Some companies actually give promotions – not-earned commissions or extra bonuses – hoping these tokens will give incentives to improve. But it only exacerbates the problems.

Come Down to Reality. If you inherit one of these people, don’t automatically fire them. They may have insights and job knowledge crucial to keeping current customers, building systems for the future and handling nuances not readily apparent in a system or product. This type of employee may simply require the right boss!

Take time to talk and work with them. Review the job description and job perception. Then, let them know exactly what your expectations are, including the scope of their authority and the quality you need in their work and people interactions. Since these employees often keep procedures in their heads to ensure their employment, be a step ahead and require them to cross-train others on their job. Some may be afraid of technology or have poor reading and writing capabilities. Do not allow them to continue to believe they are an exception to the rules. Insist they come up to speed. It will take time to break old habits. Be consistent. Be clear. Follow-up!

Qualified Assessments. Have the person take a qualified assessment. Use a tool that meets or exceeds the Department of Labor Guidelines for pre-employment tools; these tools have the highest validity and reliability on the market.  It’s very hard to effect change if you rely upon the results of a tool that has face validity (how a person wants to be seen) but no predictive value (actual correlation between the results and job requirements). Adjust job responsibilities accordingly. Provide skill development training.

Hire Bosses who can manage. Hire and promote people into management positions who are great motivators, unafraid of managing actions to produce actual results. Train them on how to conduct performance reviews. Remember, most employees want a coveted manager’s job since it’s the only way to earn more money and/or take on additional job responsibilities. The reality is many may not have the ability or interest to effectively manage or lead others. Some may simply need additional training. Create career ladders that allow non-managerial talent to be promoted and receive pay increases.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011