On a pretty regular basis, I receive emails from people who have to put up with mean bosses. Bosses who are mean are simply not qualified to be bosses and their mean behavior should not be tolerated by the people who hire them. Mean behavior is extremely counterproductive because it de-motivates people big time. Mean behavior hurts and demeans people. As a result, it does not bring out their best behavior at work, only their worst. Mean behavior on the part of a boss is the equivalent of shooting himself or herself in the foot. You’re essentially destroying the one thing that can make you successful. There’s no room in my new management model for mean behavior.
When it comes to impacting people’s lives, nothing is more powerful than kindness. As Albert Schwietzer once said: “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” Leo Buscaglia put it this way: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Henry James echoed these sentiments when he said: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Kind acts are what we were put on this planet to do. They require very little effort, but they have the power to change people’s lives. On top of that, kind acts have a homing quality; they always seem to find their way back to the person who performed them. Highly effective bosses have figured this out–kindness is a big reason for their success.
The secret to being an effective boss is to recognize that people intentionally regulate the amount of effort they put into their jobs based upon how they feel they’re being treated. If they feel they’re being treated well, they will become excited about giving their absolute best efforts which means they’ll work way beyond their job descriptions. If they feel their efforts are unappreciated they’ll pull back and do only what they have to do to keep their jobs. And, if they feel they’re being abused, they’ll either figure out some clever way to get even or they’ll look for a job somewhere else. The lesson here is that if you treat your people well–treat them with respect and show them you care–they’ll return the favor by making you look like a genius as their boss.
Negative bosses who make nasty comments to belittle or suppress those who work for them are a tremendous drain on the productivity of a business. The problem is that negative comments are hurtful and almost always ruin people’s days. When this occurs, it immediately sucks away people’s energy and now they are no longer able to apply their best effort toward doing their job. A friend of mine who is a manager recently told me that he receives at least one degrading email a month from one of his superiors. “When this happens,” he said, “I completely shut down for the rest of the day.” Let’s assume that 29 other employees received similar emails from that same person. If each of them responded by shutting down for a half-day, that’s 15 days of lost productivity each month all because of one thoughtless email! The message here is: If you have negative people working at your company, especially if they’re in supervisory or managerial positions, don’t ignore them. You need to find a way to get them rehabilitated or get rid of them because they’re a luxury you simply can’t afford.