gordon@gordontredgold.com

Sorry, But You’re Probably Alienating Your Employees (And Don’t Even Know It)

In an ideal world, the role of a leader is to nurture and cultivate employees to reach their full potential. It’s a process that benefits the worker, the brand, and even the manager themselves. 

But, as we all know, this ideal state of affairs rarely occurs in practice. Leadership best practices can take a backseat to emotional and operational realities. 

The purpose of this post, therefore, is to point out how you might be alienating your employees and what you can do to stop it. Check out our ideas below. 

Creating An Atmosphere Of Disrespect

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Many managers get into a bad habit of creating an atmosphere of disrespect. It often starts as a small joke at the expense of an employee. But before long, it blooms into something far more sinister and pervasive. Eventually, the management team sees their colleagues as objects they must command instead of subjects with thoughts and feelings in their own right. 

Research backs up the idea that disrespect causes alienation. When employees experience condemnation, disdain, and aggressiveness in the workplace, they become afraid. 

Taking People For Granted

Employers can also get into trouble for taking some of their staff for granted. Usually, this happens when you have an outstanding member of your team who always goes above and beyond in the line of duty and yet, doesn’t get the respect they deserve. 

The trick here is to see gratitude as a process, not just a social nicety. For instance, sometimes you don’t feel like doing the books when you’re tired on a Friday evening. But you do it anyway because you know that if you don’t, there will be trouble on Monday. The same goes for showing your appreciation. When you’re stressed and tired, thanking other people for their work is often the last thing on your mind. But going through the motions is still critical if you want to keep people onside. 

Not Giving Employees A Chance To Speak

Managers like to run companies like kingdoms, making decisions themselves and then just ordering their subjects to get on with the work. 

But, again, this approach rarely works. Technically, it is a form of gaslighting. Managers know well that employees have good ideas on the direction of work and the company. And yet they act as though they aren’t there. It’s actually quite weird when you think about it. 

Employees need a voice to make them feel included and invested. The more feedback you allow them to give, the more they will take responsibility for the company themselves. Again, providing people with more autonomy improves your bottom line. 

Constantly Interrupting People

Talking over somebody now and then is a normal part of human interaction. But if you continually interrupt people, then it comes across as though you don’t care about what they’re saying. And that can make them feel alienated and uncomfortable. From their perspective, they feel like they’re giving valuable input. 

The solution here is simple: allow people to speak and avoid mocking what they say. Even if their inexperience shows through, give them a little space. They’ll soon catch up once they understand all the context – just like you did when you were more junior. 


Accusing Employees Of Misdeeds

Accusing employees of trying to avoid work or shirk responsibility is a great way to make them feel alienated. If people have done nothing wrong, they won’t take kindly to any form of accusation. 

Employers, therefore, should always follow the protocol outlined in their handbook. If they think that an employee is abusing substances, then they should go on reasonable suspicion training first to ensure that they avoid false accusations. If you’re going to submit somebody to a test, you want to know that there’s a good chance you’re right first. 

Seeing Your Relationships With Employees As Confrontational

Some executives and managers can adopt a “them and us” mentality toward workers. While this view is less common these days, it goes back to the old Marxist divisions. There’s a sense that managers and workers are parts of different classes. 

Managers must nip this sense in the bud as soon as they can. The divisions are largely organizational and have nothing to do with the characters of the people involved. 

The best way to deal with this issue is to abandon this adversarial roleplaying and replace it with alliances. You want to feel like you are teaming up with your employees to solve problems and deal with issues you face. 

Misrepresenting The Job

For an ambitious employee, nothing is more annoying than an employer that misrepresents the job on offer. Workers go into a situation believing that they are going to be doing one thing but then discover that the reality is actually quite different. For instance, nobody signs up for an accounting role, just to make cups of tea for everyone else doing “real work” in the office. These days, you wouldn’t even treat an intern like that. 

Don’t misrepresent the job. It’ll just lead to higher turnover and a lot of people wasting their time, including you. 

Failing To Make Idle Chit-Chat

Leaders can sometimes forget to make idle chit-chat with their employees. And that’s understandable. Many don’t see the point or are so focused on the task at hand that it seems like a waste of time. 

Employees, however, view things differently. Most want you to ask them how their day is going. They look forward to opportunities for sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. And small talk is what allows that to happen. 

Critically, chit-chat teaches your colleagues that you see them as human beings first, and workers second. Leaders should always get their priorities straight. 

Failing To Praise

Lastly, many leaders fail to give credit where it is due. Workers can slave away in the trenches for years and not get so much as a single complement for all their hard work. Eventually, it takes its toll, even if you appreciate what they do. Make a habit of praising people when they do a good job, and never forget past successes. 

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