One of the biggest and most prominent causes of workplace toxicity is the perceived manager-employee disconnect. If the manager of a place of employment isn’t getting along with the employees, then there’s going to be tension and workflow is going to significantly suffer. This could be caused by many things: bad communication, a genuinely problematic member of staff, or poorly-defined workplace rules can all be potential contributors to a poor work culture and a manager-employee disconnect can arise.
In these situations, it’s a good idea to try and take steps to understand your manager better if you’re an employee. Try to put yourself in their shoes – what are they thinking? How are they trying to deal with the situation? – and imagine yourself making the same decisions. If you’re a manager, then there are steps you can take to try and understand your employees better. Their needs and problems largely dictate the direction and fate of the company, and a positive work culture is conducive to a positive result for the business. Here’s how you can become a better manager (or understand yours better).
Improve your emotional intelligence
When we talk about emotional intelligence, we’re talking about the ability to manage and understand not only your own feelings but the feelings of those around you as well. The signs of both low and high emotional intelligence are fairly easy to spot, and if you’re suffering under a less-than-positive work culture, improving your emotional intelligence can really help. One way to do this is to take emotional intelligence training. By doing so, you can identify problem spots in your approach and work to take positive action to change this.
Whether you’re an employee or a manager, the chances are you could learn to communicate better. Many issues at work arise from a lack of communication; if you’re failing to understand where someone is coming from or why they might be feeling the way they are, chances are it’s because you or they are not communicating properly. It’s a very common problem, so don’t worry. Addressing it is reasonably easy. Next time you find a problem arising at work, try talking to your manager or employee instead of taking the problem away with you. Have a conversation – it’ll defuse the matter.
For a manager, understanding how to delegate tasks is one of the most critical parts of running a business. Wanting to do everything yourself is completely natural – it’s probably that attitude that led to you getting the job as a manager in the first place – but your employees are there for delegation. That said, there’s always room for a conversation about whether you’re doing so effectively. If you’re an employee, try to understand that your manager is delegating tasks to you because they trust you to do them. If you’re unsatisfied, talk to them about how the process could be done better.
Take regular breaks
Both managers and employees could learn to take work a little less seriously from time to time. There are of course going to be periods during which you can’t really afford to take breaks; after all, every business has a crunch time, and you should be working at peak capacity during that time. When things are a little quieter, though, don’t be afraid to kick back a little and relax. We’re not saying don’t do any work, but you could stand to lessen your workload somewhat. Again, this comes down to communication; if you’re unhappy with your workload, start a conversation to see what can be done.
Don’t get too involved
As a manager, it’s your responsibility to manage your employees, but it’s not your responsibility to act as their therapist. Naturally, you should want to support your employees during times of difficulty. Still, this is a working relationship, and both sides should respect that. As a manager – or as an employee – don’t get too involved in your co-workers’ personal lives. You’ll understand their work life better if you ask the right questions, but not if you go overboard; that way, you’ll simply become another problem they have to deal with.
Never forget the mission
Whatever your company’s mission happens to be, it’s important to keep it in mind during every task you undertake. If you’re a manager, then make sure your employees understand the importance of the mission; it’s the entire reason your business exists, so everything you do should be shot through with it. If you’re an employee and you feel you might be losing sight of your company’s mission, take a moment to remind yourself why you work where you work. You’ll gain a greater understanding of your manager if you realise that they’re trying to reinforce the branding in everything they do.
Be good at your job
This may sound obvious, but one of the best ways you can foster a positive relationship at work is to be good at your job. If you’re dependable, your manager will be less stressed because they know there’s someone on the workforce they can unequivocally trust. As a manager, being dependable means your employees will take direction from you without question, because they’ll know you have their best interests (and the best interests of the company) at heart every time you make a decision. Even if you’ve been with your company for years, it’s still important to hone your craft!