An Unexpected Truth About Leadership
When you become a new leader, something happens that you might not be anticipating. You could be the nicest, friendliest, most approachable person in the world. But you might find yourself excluded from the team.
Because you’re The Boss, you’re unlikely to be invited to non-work-related social outings or trusted into confidences. Should you try to fix it?
Nope. Here’s why.
People On Your Team Need to Vent
As you well know, there are going to be days at work when things go wrong. Clients are going to get upset. Employees are going to get upset with clients. People will be absent because of holidays or illness. Others will be burdened with increased workloads. Mistakes, from ant-hills to Antarctica-sized uh-oh’s, will happen.
These are all part of business. And part of life.
When they do, emotions and tempers rise, and people just want to let off some steam. People will say and do things just to release the tension and get it out into the world. Away from them.
And when they do, you—their boss who signs their paycheck—are very likely the last person in the world they want to witness the expulsion. Or be close enough to catch wind of the spoken stress relievers.
Chances are, that in some instances, as rare as it may seem, you’ll be the source of their frustration. When that happens, they’ll talk behind your back. Your flaws will be aired out in the open, analyzed under a microscope, and debated with a spirit only to prelude a boastful presentation of obvious solutions. Usually followed by murmured agreement, then forgotten about until next time…
As a leader, accept it. You can’t stop it from happening so don’t even try to fight it. Maybe even consider supporting it—to a degree.
Provide Your Employees with a Means to Vent
Before the internet, before COVID, employees would get together for a drink or dinner after work. It was an opportunity to build relationships and vent. The boss was intentionally not invited. In fact, the boss might not even know that there were social events happening outside of work organized by the employees.
Now, with so many working remotely, the environment is different, but your employees are very likely still “meeting up” for the same reasons.
Why not support their need to vent by providing a safe space to do so?
Let them know you recognize their need to let off steam when things go sideways and that you’re OK with them creating a private Slack channel or Zoom convo just for that purpose. Whatever it looks like, it’s a safe space for them to vent without worrying about you listening in.
Employees Will Also Have Challenges In Their Personal Lives
Unexpected or very stressful events are part of life and happen to every single person. When it happens to an employee, know that they’re likely not going to be efficient at their job for a period of time while they try to handle the issue.
And they will likely need additional support at work. What would this look like?
When employees are going through a difficult time, one important thing that you can do as a boss is to provide tools and resources to guard and strengthen their mental health.
And, if possible, work with your team to try to offload some of their work while it’s needed.
Whatever it is, consider what you would want or need if you were in their shoes and pull your team together to support them.
When You Support Your Team, You’re Investing In Your Business Growth
When you’re growing your business, long-term investments are usually the best kind of investments.
Your employees are one of your long-term investments. It’s less of a drain on your resources if you can avoid employee turnover, and instead keep, support, and develop the team you already have—including providing a safe space to vent (even if it’s about you!) and a supportive environment when times get tough.
The ROI is a stronger company with a solid, healthy culture.
Based on an excerpt from our BIZ/DEV podcast, Episode 43.