Before you were an employer, you were an employee. You may remember your first job as a teenager: a cashier at a fast-food restaurant, a retail worker at a clothing store, or a babysitter for the neighbor kids. Hopefully, your first job experience was a positive one. But maybe you remember some unprofessional employer behavior and attitudes.
They didn't take your schedule seriously and scheduled you on school nights. Or they turned from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde when you asked for a day off. Possibly you worked in an environment where you dreaded going to work but felt like you had to, so you could pay your bills and have gas money.
So, you promised yourself that you'd do better when you were an employer; you'd have a workplace everyone wanted to work in. To have this kind of workplace, it is necessary to leave any old attitudes behind, whether they come from you or are imposed by society. See if you harbor any of these attitudes and learn some ways to ditch them.
Old attitude #1: "No one wants to work anymore."
You may have seen job-wanted ads or signs in windows with the message: Looking for new employees! Short-staffed. No one wants to work anymore. Statistics show otherwise: in December 2022, there were 10.3 million job openings in the United States, and there are currently 10.7 million people looking for work.
If "no one wanted to work," there wouldn't be people looking for work. But the "no one wants to work" attitude is old, dating back to 1894, as a viral Twitter thread showed employers complaining "no one wants to work anymore" throughout the ages. And, as an article in Financial Poise stated, “When employers say people don’t want to work, they’re telling on themselves...it’s not that people don’t want to work. They don’t want to work for you.”
Ditch this attitude by: Engaging with your employees. Listen to them and make time for them. It is difficult to establish any kind of rapport if you are not setting aside the time to make those connections; you should meet with your team a minimum of once a week and sometimes more depending on the projects they’re working on. By engaging regularly with your employees, you’re making them feel like they are a valued part of the organization and that they matter.
Old attitude #2: Baiting and switching
Job hunters look for open positions that fit their qualifications. They click on a listing that offers everything they're looking for.
Well, almost everything.
For example, they set their search filters to show remote and/or hybrid work jobs. However, when looking at that promising job description, they learn the job isn't remote and/or hybrid at all. Or, when they look for a list of benefits and salary, the job posting does not mention them. This causes frustration, and then potential candidates will search elsewhere.
Ditch this attitude by: Being honest and straightforward, as 96% (!) of job seekers value transparency above all else, and say it’s important to work for a company that embraces it. Job seekers need to know the role, the benefits, and the salary upfront. Mention whether the job is remote, hybrid, or on-site, as well as the "must-have" and the "nice to have" skills/qualifications, benefits, and salary. This will give job seekers all the information they need to know, and it will save you time by making sure those you want to apply, apply.
Old attitude #3: Not respecting boundaries
An employee has given their hours and days of availability, but it’s ignored, and the employee gets scheduled at a time they're unavailable. Texts and messages hit phones long past business hours or past an employee’s shift to ask them work-related questions. When employees ask to use their paid time off or sick leave, those requests are met with a sigh, an eye roll, or a curt, "I need people ready to work at all times." Employers tell their workers they cannot take time off during the holidays and refuse to honor time-off requests—or deny previously approved requests.
Ditch this attitude by: Respecting boundaries! If an employee cannot work on a specific day, holiday, or time, honor that. If employees need time off, encourage them to take it and turn off any work notifications from channels like Slack or Microsoft Teams. In addition, encourage them to set an away message on their email that colleagues and clients will receive should they try to email the employee. Respecting boundaries will establish trust and allow employees to not feel guilty about taking time off, reinforcing that they signed up for a job, not a lifestyle.
Old attitude #4: Micromanagement
Employees are hired under the assumption employers trust them to do the job they hired them to do.
However, the employer likes to be CC'ed on every single email to be kept in the loop. They might obsessively monitor every project their team is working on and literally look over their shoulders to see what’s being worked on. Perhaps they want constant updates on where things stand or to delegate what needs to be done and enforce how it should be done. Maybe they're afraid the team isn't working, so they're required to download software that takes pictures of them every 10 minutes—this way, employers can see their employees are actually at their computers. Oh, and if you have a Zoom meeting and see your employee is in a room other than their home office? You tell them they can only work in their home office.
These examples? Not hypothetical. They really happened and are symptoms of micromanagement. Micromanagement may get results in the short term, but in the long term, it negatively affects employee performance and hurts team morale. As a result of micromanagement, 85% of employees say their confidence is negatively affected, 69% consider changing jobs because of micromanagement—and 36% do!
Ditch this attitude by: Adopting strategies to reduce micromanagement. Make sure you allow employees the space to learn and grow in their roles and the freedom to approach projects in a way that makes sense to them. Learn that perfect is the enemy of good and mistakes will happen; approach those mistakes as learning opportunities. Above all, trust your employees to do their job, but verify that the job has been done well. "Trust but verify" is an excellent way to wean yourself off micromanagement.
New attitude, better habits
Negative attitudes are like bad habits. It takes time to unlearn them and to learn more positive, healthy attitudes. But once new attitudes are adopted, that workplace employers dream of, where every employee wants to work, becomes a reality.
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