July 16, 2009

How to be a Good Boss in Tough Times

As many of you already know, I travel the country providing training to corporate and government agencies on effective job search techniques, management, leadership and communication. In the past few months, I have been getting a lot more questions regarding how to manage employees after the company has reorganized or laid folks off. Clearly, this question is largely driven the state of economic affairs that we have right now, and unfortunately, many managers are finding themselves ill-prepared to cope with the ramifications.

One of the first concepts that I like to share with these clients is called the "toxic tandem." This is a phrase coined by Robert Sutton of the Stanford Graduate School of Engineering. The toxic tandem states that most managers work in a fog of ignorance about the needs and activities of their subordinates. This is largely due to the increased work load, as well as a desire to prove themselves worthy of their power. That's not to say that managers are completely at fault. It is just that their perspectives and priorities shift.

Conversely, that same manager's subordinates start to scrutinize and hyper-analyze everything that the manager does to determine what may happen in the organization. Employees are trying to understand and control their destiny by reading "tea leaves," if you will, simply because the manager is paying less attention to them. If you mix tough economic times and lay-offs with this "toxic tandem," you can see why many organizations are in a high state of anxiety.

I was so excited to find a video with Robert Sutton talking about this very phenomenon. He shares some theories and a four-part strategy on how to address this upheaval in the workplace. Happy viewing and learning!

Click to view here.

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