No matter how prepared the leader, no matter how grand the vision or inspiring the work, problems tend to crop up. No matter what business he or she works for, a leader is really in the business of people. The individuals and teams that make up an organization are often the most volatile and risky part of that operation.
Caution : Don’t blame yourself! Just because all your plans aren’t going off without a hitch does not mean that you are a bad leader. Remember, people are a volatile work material and do not always perform as expected.
Certainly, using a rigorous interviewing process can minimize problems. An individual’s ability to work well with the team is as important as his or her skills. Interviews give the leader a chance to preview the education, skills, and work experience of a potential employee. Equally important as a person’s technical know-how is the candidate’s ability to fit into the corporate culture of a given organization. This means that before hiring someone, the leader must try to determine whether a potential employee can treat coworkers civilly, function as a member of a team, or be comfortable in a largely self-managed position.
Another preemptive step that’s gaining popularity in today’s corporations is giving seminars to let employees know what is appropriate workplace behavior. Seminars can cover all topics that relate to how employees conduct themselves within the organization from warning employees about insider trading to asking them to refrain from telling discriminatory jokes in the office. Even if you work in a smaller-scale company, you can benefit from conducting a seminar for your employees. You might include topics such as your mission statement, accepted behaviors, expected performance, and how team members are evaluated and rewarded.
Just be prepared to stand by the statements and to work under the same conditions that you ask your employees to work under. For instance, if you ask your employees not to wear shorts because they work around dangerous equipment, don’t show up for work in shorts yourself. Even though you may not directly work with the equipment, you could be setting a double standard that will cause resentment.
Tip: Once your employees are aware of what is expected of them, try reinforcing that message by creating posters containing that information and hanging them around the work area. This will be a constant reminder of valued work behaviors.
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