You give the deadline for a project but as the day approaches, nothing is ready. You ask for reports to be completed and no one responds. You leave the office for a meeting, leaving instructions behind, but return to find none of them have been implemented. Why? And how do you resolve the problem?
Leadership is one of the steepest learning curves for any manager. The quality of your leadership will determine whether your practice prospers, or like cancer, slowly breeds resentment, inefficiency, and a skinny bottom line. Whether you realize it or not, other people take their cue from you – the openness, atmosphere, trust, and inspiration that others experience stems from you. It is important that you configure your behavior and communicate the actions and principles necessary for a happy, successful and compliant working environment.
Here are 4 reasons we often see that can cause your employees to lose confidence in you as their leader.
Reason #1 – Lack of Vision
Your practice is like a ship. If you, as the captain at the helm, don’t know where the practice is going, no one else will either. If others don’t know the destination, they may be reluctant to exert themselves over work that seems endless and pointless. Lack of vision is often the biggest reason employees are ineffective and noncompliant.
Whether you wrote your practice’s vision statement or not, you first have to understand, grasp and reflect it. This requires more than simply including it in their Employee Handbook and training, telling them at monthly staff meetings, or even posting it in break rooms. A visible, written version is important, but the even more important point is that your employees learn to see it for themselves. After all, its called a vision for a reason! Talk with them about who the practice is and what it represents, what their role is in helping to create and maintain that environment and why it is important that it occurs. Your practice vision should be the match to ignite passion in your employees. To get them to fall in behind you as you marshal your resources and efforts. In getting your employees to catch the vision, you should help them discover their own source of inspiration, by entwining the practice vision with their personal dreams and vision. So many employers and employees become cagey about individual dreams and aspirations; nervous about the idea that their employees won’t stay with them forever, as if dreaming is inconsistent with a commitment to the practice. Actually, employees who see their job as a channel for developing their long-term goals and talents are the most engaged and willing to get the job done.
Reason #2 – Lack of Trust
When you believe someone is using you, what do you do? You naturally withdraw. But when you engage in a mutually beneficial relationship you are more invested. In the same way, if your employees don’t feel like you are honest, loyal, dependable, or that you have their best interests at heart, they won’t invest any more time or effort than they are contractually obliged to. Why do some employees happily stay behind to help check out a late patient and use their personal social media accounts to promote the activities of the practice, while others have blocked their employer on Facebook or are one foot out the door at 4:59 PM? Perhaps they don’t think their extra effort will be rewarded, or even acknowledged. In other words, they don’t trust your conduct or character as a leader – maybe even as an organization.
The amount of trust between you and your employees has a direct impact on the amount of effort, sacrifice, and support they are willing to give. You can improve the trust level in your workplace by demonstrating:
- Integrity – When you make promises – keep them! Whether to your employees, colleagues, patients, associates or anyone else who your employees see you interact with. Make sure everyone knows the convictions by which your organization operates. Hold yourself accountable to them and take quick action to stop any activity which goes against them.
- Love – Let your employees know that they are important and valuable to you; not just in terms of the professional fulfillment of their role, but as individuals. Demonstrate that you believe in their ability, that they help to define the practice, that their personality adds something special to the team and work environment and that you want them to be happy, prosperous, fulfilled and growing in every area of their life. You can show this by notes, cards and words; by organizing parties to celebrate their joining the practice or special occasions in their life; by setting up classes or programs to advance their learning; or simply by taking a few minutes to inquire about their family and personal interests. When people feel like they are part of a team or family, they are more invested in its success.
- Loyalty – Be respectful and responsible with the information that others share with you and don’t use that information against them. If they confide in you concerning a personal problem, don’t repeat what you have been told. Loyalty also means that you should not say anything about someone in their absence that you wouldn’t say in their presence. Evaluating employees may require you to discuss certain things in confidence, but even then, your manner of talking about people should be respectful and not unfairly harsh.
Reason #3 – Lack of Respect
True respect cannot be bought or demanded, and it does not come by virtue of your position. Employees may acquiesce to you and address you formally because you approve their paycheck and have the authority to fire them, but if they don’t acknowledge your right to lead them they will cut corners, shirk responsibilities and influence others against you. Your focus should not be on winning the respect of others, but rather becoming a person and a leader worthy of respect – because respect is a response to four specific qualities:
- Wisdom – Take time to plan carefully. Think strategically, anticipate changes and innovate using past experience and knowledge. Don’t just do what you feel like and don’t repeat old models or methods if they have proven not to work. If you give instructions or layout plans and your employees don’t put their full effort forward, it may be because they don’t believe your plans will work. Results are compelling. Be diligent and focus on where you are going.
- Humility – A boss who takes all the credit for the success of the team is not a leader! A leader encourages, shares the glory and promotes others. Don’t demand respect or compliance. Focus on teaching and inspiring. Focus on providing good opportunities, direction, support, and encouragement. Humility is a powerful quality that sadly many bosses lack. If you develop it, you will inspire a high regard in others that moves them to act on your every instruction.
- Responsibility – A manager who blames others for poor results does not inspire respect. When things go wrong, you must accept that you could have done something different (even if just your communication, the clarity of your instruction or helping others to catch your vision). If you will work to discover what you could have done differently, correct it and inspire others not to give up in the face of challenges, then others will look to you as a source of strength no matter how hard things get.
- Firmness – A manager who frequently allows rules, guidelines, deadlines, and ethics to be broken will find respect hard to come by because others will doubt when you are serious in your instructions. Leadership is not a popularity contest, it is a service of creating and upholding boundaries of acceptable behavior. When you ensure that guidelines are made clear, and you establish consequences for their violation, you allow everyone the opportunity to thrive.
Reason #4 – Lack of a Good Example
Above all, leadership is about setting a good example. People will learn more from how you act and react than your instructions. Others will always watch you before they decide to follow you. Ensure that you are demonstrating the kind of behavior you wish to see. Your aim is not just to win their trust or respect, but to give them a model which they can emulate.
Ultimately, an employer-employee relationship is a two-way street and nothing can force anyone to change or to follow you. As much as leadership is challenging and packed with responsibility, it also comes with the potential to help others become their best selves. Employees may come to you with no vision, but if you work with them, you can inspire them to not only discover their personal vision but to also catch your company vision. Leadership is not just an idea, it is a principle. You must understand its components and apply them. When you do you will see a transformation in yourself, your employees and your practice.