Words we are proud to support….
Words we are proud to support….
I hear it all the time…my team is not performing and I don’t know why. People know something is wrong, but can’t but their finger on the issue. Here are 5 things to consider when trying to determine why your team isn’t performing.
1. Team meetings- collaborative or a catastrophe? Meetings are supposed to be interactive. You meet, discuss and deliberate. They are called meetings because they are collaborative. The purpose is to bring everyone together, not dictate your demands. If your team members are not participating then they do not feel like they are a part of a team. They feel they are working under a dictator, and not in a democracy.
Extra Tip: If you ever said “This isn’t a democracy. It is a dictatorship” people do not feel like they are a part of your team.
2. Ideas are not freely discussed: Everyone should be free to throw out any idea they have about how to make things better. As a leader it is your job to weed out the bad ones, and most of the good ones too. However, a safe environment to discuss ideas is necessary for healthy teams. Providing a safe place for your team to discuss ideas creates trust. You have to have trust on a team. Period.
3. Got gossip? Does your team talk about others instead of dealing with the problem head on? Do you talk about your team as opposed to dealing with problem head on? If your team doesn’t know how to handle conflict then trust will erode. You have to have trust on a team. Period.
4. Are you fair and consistent? It is natural to have favorites! However, when leading a team you have to hold everyone to the same standards. Your team watches you like a hawk. If you do not hold everyone to the same standard trust will erode. You have to have trust on a team. Period.
5. Does your team think in terms of the greater good? On healthy teams a win for the group is a win for the individual. When one struggles, everyone struggles. This is what it means to be a part of something greater than one’s self. You need to lead your team to put team goals ahead of personal ones. You also need to make sure team members have a clear understanding of the overall company goals. Toxic teams think me. Healthy teams think we.
Great teams are a choice. So are bad ones…you have the choice to lead either.
Or can you? I recently went to a screening of Bully. While I have seen the documentary before, it is one I recommend everyone watch more than once. The teen focused drama is s sober reminder of the ramifications cruel intentions have on targets.
Having said all that, it is time I come around full circle. I was having a discussion with a co-worker. As we reflected on a particular situation, it was stated that you can’t fire someone for being an asshole. While workplace targets are not protected by law, why aren’t more organizations putting anti-bully language into their HR polices? Smart companies know it is more cost effective to retain employees you already have, as opposed to having to fill empty positions vacated by trained, knowledgeable, high performers. Happy employees, who feel appreciated and empowered generate greater sales, create happier clients, and are more productive.
HR polices protect a lot of individuals from a lot of “stuff”. Sexual harassment, derogatory slurs, graffiti, dirty emails, and any other repeated behavior that may be considered discrimination of some sort based on an individual’s race, gender, age, sex, national origin, disability, or genetic information. If these acts create a hostile work environment the acts become illegal. Please note, I am not a HR specialist, nor a lawyer. The point is this: my employer must protect me from a hostile work environment if the discrimination against me is because I am a member of a protected class. However, they don’t need to protect me if a hostile work environment is created because of a workplace bully.
36% of people in the workplace are affected by bullies. However, when the hostile work environment is brought to the attention of higher ups, or often HR, the answer seems to be nothing can be done. Maybe some conflict resolution techniques will be thrown out. Perhaps feedback will be given to someone…somewhere. But for the most part polices aren’t in place to protect the targets of bullying. As a result absenteeism increases, healthcare costs go up, productivity goes down, and turnover happens. The last statement should make HR and manager hearts beat a bit faster. It should cause palms to sweat.. just a little.
So, leaving the whole “it’s the right thing to do” aside, why aren’t HR departments fighting to protect all employee’s from a hostile work environment, despite whether or not the law requires it? There is a real monetary reason for why organizations should have anti-bully policies in their employee handbook. To replace an employee, it can cost up to 150% of the departed’s salary. I won’t even talk about the cost in lost productivity and the potential of lawsuits. Yet we still can’t fire an assohole? If conscience isn’t reason enough to look at anti-bully policies the cost alone should make this a no brainer policy for every organization.
For me, the word bully conjures up memories of the beloved movie, “A Christmas Story”. Throughout the movie you see Scut Farkus, a stereotypical bully, large in size and awkward looking, disregarding rules and bullying the seemingly helpless nerd Ralphie. As it turns out, Ralphie was able to extract revenge on Scut in the end… when pushed to the breaking point Ralphie pummels Scut over and over. It was a victorious moment for all nerds bullied on the playground.
Well, we have grown up and no longer face bullies on the playground. However they may very well sit in the cube next to us. And, while I would like to shrug off their behavior as simply being a jerk, the truth is, their behavior can destroy individuals, teams, and profits in an organization.
While there isn’t a universal definition of the workplace bully (WB), the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines it so:
The repeated, health-harming mistreatment of an individual (the target) by one or more perpetrators that take one of the following forms: verbal, offensive behavior, or work interference (sabotage).
It is estimated that 37% of people are currently being bullied on the job. That means nearly 2 out of every 5 people are walking into a hostile work environment every day.
This list isn’t inclusive of all bullying behavior. When someone feels threatened, they will resort to many kinds of behavior in order to regain some of the control they fear they are losing.
If you think bullying may be taking place in your workplace please click and take this quiz. If you know you are being bullied and would like suggestions about how you can help stop it, please visit the WBI website. Next Friday WW will blog about why people bully. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you can be to defend yourself and others from bullies whose behavior can destroy individuals, teams, even organizations.
Marianne is the founder of Work Warrior LLC, a company that helps organizations and non-profits build fearless, strong, and skilled teams. Work Warrior focuses on team, leadership, and process development.