Are you inadvertently bullying your staff?

Too many workplaces are run by managers who aim to get the best from their staff through fear and control, when in reality they could achieve better results if they did the exact opposite.

The financial, resources and sales industries are among the worst when it comes to leadership, with bosses bullying staff and potentially not even realising it.

Despite anti-bullying laws and heightened awareness, the problem is still being swept under the carpet in too many offices.

In most cases, the boss doesn’t realise their style of leadership may equate to bullying, as they are unaware of the way they come across. They may be afraid of losing control, which can create an uneasy environment for staff.

The culture of a workplace is defined by its leader – for example, a business owner unwilling to pay attention to detail will attract employees with a similar mindset.

Leadership challenges are not limited to big corporations either, with SMEs facing similar issues.

In the 12 months following the launch of the Fair Work Commission in 2014, there were 676 claims for orders to stop bullying, which begs the question of how many more victims stayed silent.

There are leadership training programs that can improve the situation tenfold, but there are also a lot of programs that miss the mark.

Many businesses have a budget for training programs but fail to do their research, and instead spend their money only to be spoken to from a lectern before hitting the golf course.

Leadership training programs work when they are practical and experiential, so leaders can put their new knowledge into practice and get feedback from their staff.

Bosses wanting to increase staff productivity and build powerful teams could look at improving their own leadership skills first, particularly in the following areas:

  1. Experiential training: Physically practising the newly learned skills and receiving real-time feedback will help eradicate bad habits in leadership and ensure implementation.
  2. Communication: Learning how to handle staff that are upset or not engaged in the conversation. Building trust to open the lines of communication.
  3. Empathy: The key skill of leadership is empathy – the ability to understand what is happening for someone else, and to communicate with them appropriately.
  4. Control: Top-performing teams are made up of people who choose to be there. They are not controlled by anyone other than themselves. The way to gain this level of support is to ensure that your teams are always in control and you are the conductor of the orchestra.
  5. Delegation: The ability to delegate involves letting go of control and trusting someone else to get the job done for you. The more they are empowered and totally choose to do the job, the better thee outcome.

Anyone can be a good leader if they are prepared to improve their self-awareness and empathy.

Mike Irving is a business and performance coach at Advanced Business Abilities, which helps with the development of leadership and public speaking skills.

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