Does a Member of Your Leadership Team Behave Unpredictably?

Years ago I worked with a manager who was charming, light-hearted and popular with his workers, initially. As he became more established and confident in his leadership role, something changed. His previous self-control seemed to dissolve in a moment and his loud, abusive behavior, humiliating whomever he was angry with, took over in an instant.

He claimed that he only behaved like that when he “had enough”.

His employees reported a very different experience. They were unable to determine what his triggers were, because his outbursts were not always linked to poor performance or a customer crisis. One of the team members, whose office was next door to the manager, was assigned the role of trying to gauge the manager’s mood and to alert the team with a “weather report” as soon as the manager arrived.

As with historical weather reports, they were often way off, since this manager could be triggered by a phone call or email not seen by others.

A June 2016 HBR article highlighted research published in the Academy of Management Journal, 2016, showing that the predictability of the manger has a high impact on worker stress. Worker stress, fear and insecurity at work do not bode well for employee stability and satisfaction.

Predictably bad behavior was shown to cause less stress than erratic, unpredictable behavior.

Being able to count on a leader’s behavior based on the consistency of their fairness was shown to have the biggest impact on employee responses to questions about their work stress.

If you have an erratic manager who could be undermining productivity, morale and employee satisfaction, don’t allow them to get away with it for another day! Get them help that counts, get them a coach.


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