Leadership can make or break a business. When leaders are weak, inept or simply don’t know what they’re doing, morale drops and talented employees start updating their resumes and making plans to move on.
Give your company a leadership checkup by reviewing these six leadership problems that could be killing your business from within.
Encouraging Cutthroat Competition
Competition can be a healthy part of a work environment, if it’s managed properly. But leaders who pit employees against each other create a cutthroat climate that discourages teamwork, says Stan Kimer of Total Engagement Consulting.
“When a poor management system overly emphasizes comparing employees to each other, they will stop working together and helping each other, and may even sabotage each other’s work and hurt overall team results to get ahead,” he explains. But a strong employee evaluation system that prioritizes teamwork can help eliminate that problem.
Punishing the Bearers of Bad News
Leaders who “fail to welcome” bad news can kill a business, says Ben Baran, management professor at the Haile/US Bank College of Business at Northern Kentucky University. “This occurs when leaders shoot the messenger who brings them bad news, and don’t actively ask their frontline people for their completely honest input.”
Instead, leaders need to praise employees when they quickly identify signs of things going wrong, and seek input from the team members who have the most expertise in a problematic area, Baran says. Building a culture of support and transparency is key.
Ignoring Employee Input
Similar to punishing employees who report problems is the mistake of not taking time to listen to employees at all. Your employees know your business processes inside and out — and can tell you where processes are broken, says Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better. “I see too many leaders engaged in one-way communication — leader-to-employee. They don’t ask enough questions to learn more about business challenges and employee observations. Without that input, they are flying blind.”
Leaders who care only about day-to-day operations will get stuck in the status quo, says business consultant Mike Provitera. Whether it’s fear of change or simply lazy thinking, not innovating will keep them from planning for the future and helping their organizations thrive moving forward. Prioritizing strategic development and putting together an action committee can help get the company back on track.
Ignoring the Need for Growth and Development
To succeed, leaders need to create development plans for themselves and their employees, and then put those plans into action. “Leaders may have knowledge in one key area but now they have to develop competencies on multiple fronts,” says Provitera. A culture of development, in which all employees — from leaders to rank-and-file — understand their current roles and their potential, can help energize a company.
Failing to Motivate Followers
Understanding what drives employee engagement is essential, says Tim Glowa of Bug Insights. And when leaders lack this understanding, they can dishearten employees and drive them not to care about their work and the company. For example, treating all employees the same, instead of understanding their unique needs, can hold a company back. “Sally might thrive on public recognition, but Frank might find that embarrassing,” Glowa says. “You need to know your employees and team members.”
HR Solutions is a human resources outsourcing firm based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We eliminate human resources headaches for businesses with 10 to 1,000 employees by handling their payroll, employee benefits, regulatory compliance and other staffing needs. Contact us to learn how we can streamline your company’s human resources function to save money and reduce risk.