Like it or not, as a manager of people your behaviours are scrutinised by your staff. Of course, they won’t tell you this, but rest assured your actions and communication style are all being watched carefully. Furthermore (and this is the important point) your behaviour often sets an important example for how others can behave in your team.
Research shows a manager’s behaviours play a significant role in setting the tone or culture of a team or even an organisation. It is not uncommon for staff to feel that they have been given “permission” to behave in a way that is similar to the manager’s. In other words, staff often copy the behaviours of their managers. If, for example, you make a habit of being dismissive of staff, do not be surprised to see similar behaviours being displayed by, say, your second in charge with respect to his/her immediate reports, who in turn do the same with their reports.
Similarly, do not expect your staff to follow your directions when you say one thing but do another. For example, if you pronounce to your staff the importance of customer service but at the same time, via your actions, demonstrate poor customer service and/or bad mouth your customers do not be surprised to discover that the culture of your organisation is one which undermines high levels of customer service.
This copying of leaders’ behaviours, experts agree, is one way businesses (small and large) develop their internal cultures, which have an enormous impact upon the performance of an organisation. In fact, the culture of an organisation can often make the difference between a thriving and enjoyable place to work as opposed to an inefficient and bleak workplace. It is not an exaggeration to say that a business’s culture can make the difference between success and failure.
Smart leaders/managers are acutely aware that they are role models and that their behaviours are a major determinant of their organization’s culture and therefore performance. These leaders demonstrate behaviours designed to bring out the best in their staff. They avoid any sort of behaviour that may de-motivate staff or lay the seeds of a negative business culture. Ineffective leaders, on the other hand, are unaware of the importance of their personal behaviours or simply don’t care.
A list of good business behaviours for managers
• Avoid whingeing or negative statements. When things go wrong, tackle the problems with a positive, can-do attitude
• As much as possible avoid blaming others when things go wrong. You don’t want to develop a culture of finger pointing every time something goes awry. When things go wrong instead of pointing the finger, say: What can I do to help you so that this doesn’t happen again?
• Always praise staff when they do something special.
• Treat all staff scrupulously fairly. At all costs avoid creating the perception of having favourites. You don’t want to create an Us vs Them culture or a culture where some staff feel like outsiders or second class citizens.
• Avoid saying one thing but doing another.
• Never promise what you can’t deliver.
• Always treat your staff with dignity and respect. Staff who just aren’t performing despite your best efforts to help them can be let go, but never in a way that humiliates them. Remember, others are watching.
• Make time to listen to your staff and customers. Create processes by which listening to your stakeholders becomes the norm not the exception.
• When you make a mistake don’t be afraid to admit it.