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How to Land Your Employees In Therapy

Last Updated Jul 15, 2011 1:23 AM EDT

Therapist Lori Gottlieb kept encountering patients who had picture perfect childhoods, but nevertheless ended up feeling lost and depressed. Her diagnosis? Parents were too supportive, too accommodating, solved too many problems and never gave negative feedback.

Believe it or not, there are bosses like that as well. While they aren't responsible for churning out adults, what does happen is that their employees become frustrated because there is no promotion, and no improvement in career, but they lack understanding of what they are doing wrong. If you see yourself in these descriptions, better up the budget for your Employee Assistance Program, because you're acting as foolishly as Gottlieb's patients' parents.
  1. Always protect your group. If there's a problem, it didn't come from your people. Well, of course, it could have, but they were late because Joe in accounting was sick on Tuesday and Karen in marketing made that spelling error on her power point presentation so therefore...Face it. Your employees aren't perfect. If you aren't willing to admit their errors to your peers and superiors, they will lose respect for your people.
  2. Feedback is always positive. You should give positive feedback. It's a great motivator. But, negative feedback is also absolutely necessary. Your employees have to know what they can and should do better. They need to know not only their strengths but their weaknesses. If you never tell them their weaknesses, they assume they don't have any, and then end up wondering why they aren't getting promoted.
  3. You always say yes. If an employee wants to telecommute, leave at 3:00 on Tuesdays, or keep Facebook open in the corner of her computer screen you say yes. This is fabulous, but only under one condition: High performance. The problem comes around when you say yes to perks and privileges when the person isn't performing. Or, you fail to take them away when productivity goes down. It's good to say yes, but a good boss also knows when to say no.
  4. You solve every problem. Are your employees constantly in your office? Does nothing get accomplished if you're not there? Do you have to hand hold people through each step of an activity? Then you've either hired the dumbest group of people out there (possible), or you've set up your department so that they never have to think. You're always there to answer questions and solve problems. Yes, you should train and guide and mentor and all that, but your employees should be capable of doing the jobs they were hired to do.
  5. Your people never move up, just out. Yes, your job is to make sure the work gets done, but it's also to develop your people. Why? Because happy, productive employees tend to be the ones that in a career, not just a job. And careers have growth attached to them. Much like the parents that have their 30 year old sleeping in his childhood room and playing video games late into the night, if your employees never move into higher level positions you're not developing them.
  6. You treat all your employees the same. Treating people the same way is not the same as treating them fairly. Of course things should be fair, but they should rarely be the same. If you reward the slacker equally with the producer, the producer is going to leave. And she'll be bitter and withdrawn and unengaged until she leaves. If you praise poor work the same way you praise good work, your employees will see no need to produce good work.
We usually hear about managers who are too mean, nasty and vindictive and what a problem they are. Being too nice seems pleasant, but can cause just as many problems.

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Photo by Pitel, Flickr cc 2.0