Team members want the leader to lead and hold everyone to the same standard of behavior that is fair. Team members want the leader to be predictable; not irrational. Team members want to know what is acceptable and what is not, and want the leader to enforce the code of conduct fairly (the same for all).
But What If…
There’s one condition that is worse, however. That is when the leader is the source of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Leaders do this by being irrational and dealing with everything “one on one.” The result is, in one case someone gets by with something and in the next a worker is executed for the same infraction.
The ultimate sin on the leader’s part is being dishonest through omission or commission. Workers see this as the leader deals with customers or other workers. Does the leader lie, cheat, and steal? “Tell the customer that the job is out for delivery,” when the job has yet to be started is a common example.
Does the leader skim money from the cash drawer? Does the owner expect everyone to be on time, but is regularly late himself? Does the owner make appointments and then fail to show up? The actions of the leader tell workers the truth. It’s all in how we act, not what we say.
An adult working environment is where the workers know the answers to basic questions. “What’s expected of me?” is established by the leader legislating behaviors, and through a good set of employee guidelines that let everyone know the policies to which they will be held responsible, as well as the benefits they may expect.
“What’s my job?” is answered with a basic task listing for functional jobs, such as press operator. For upper management, such as a production manager, it is answered through job descriptions.
“Where do I fit in?” is answered with a simple organizational chart, focused on functions, not people, that clarifies who reports to whom and who the worker should go to when they get conflicting directions. For example, “The CSR wants me to do this and the sales guy wants me to do this, so tell me what I should do next, boss.”
“Am I being paid fairly?” is answered with regular wage reviews, using public and trade comparatives. “How am I doing?” is answered with a performance review, as is, “What do I have to do to get ahead around here?”
However, the most basic elements of an adult work environment is the removal of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And that is the exclusive responsibility of the leader.
Next month we will see where legislating applies to more than just workers.
Tom Crouser is principal of Crouser & Associates, Inc., 4710 Chimney Drive, Charleston, WV 25302, 304/965-7100. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out the unique business opportunity for small press printers offered by CPrint International at www.cprint.org. Tom is now Twittering weekdays. Follow his tweets at www.twitter.com/tomcrouser. This article is available as a podcast at www.quickprinting.com/podcast and from iTunes.