I once worked for a CEO who never said, “Thank you.” No matter no matter what employees accomplished or how much they went above and beyond, he didn't thank the people who worked for him. He believed that their pay was all the thanks that people needed. So praise for a job well done wasn’t something that one came to expect either.
Any time we had a meeting with him, we would all prepare ourselves for an onslaught of questioning - preparing ourselves for not only the likely questions, but the unlikely ones as well. We would consider meetings a success if all of the participants walked out with all of their anatomy intact. Thisbehavior was not confined to the CEO. Many other executives and managers emulated his style.
Although none of these people were inherently mean or nasty, when employees could only expect criticism or worse at a meeting, the organization became driven by fear. This style of management was unpleasant and there are three reasons that it was bad for business:
1. Fear doesn’t bring out the best in people. Instinctively, in any interpersonal interaction the human brain determines if they’re dealing with a friend or foe. If the brain believes itself to be dealing with a foe, a fear response is triggered, which makes accessing the creative and analytical portions of the brain less accessible. How many times have you walked out of a meeting where your fear response was triggered and come up with better ideas than you had at that meeting?
2. Fear inhibits personal connection. Because people are social creatures, personal connection is important. I have always performed at my best for bosses with whom I felt some kind of personal connection. I would extend myself to go above and beyond for people. While project deadlines and key performance indicators were important, they weren’t the same as working to strengthen the relationship.
What has always motivated me to share information with my boss, both good but especially bad, has been the strength of my connection with that person. To effectively lead an organization, a leader must be in touch with the team. Fear makes that difficult, if not impossible.
3. Turnover is expensive. Most people who change jobs are leaving their bosses. What is the tone of meetings with your team?
If you are one of those bosses who has believed that your job doesn’t involve thanking your team or providing positive feedback, think about your interactions with your team and whether the lack of positive feedback from you has unwittingly created a climate of fear. You won’t be able to change things overnight, but consciousness is the first step. The next step might be saying, “Thank you.”
QUESTION: How do you build a connection to your team?
Leadership/Career Coach Kris Ishibashi works with leaders to bring together their skills, their authentic selves, and their intentions to inspire their organizations to superior performance. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation.