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Throw Away Your Emotional Manual For Your Employees

Written by: Elisia Keown, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Ever feel frustrated with an employee when you think they should be behaving differently than they are?

Examples of these thoughts could be:

"They should be professional"

"They should listen."

"They should speak up in meetings."

"They should ask me more questions if they are confused about how to do their job."

"They should accept my feedback."

Based on our experiences and backgrounds, we come with preconceived notions of how we think others should be in the workplace. If others don't behave in the way that we believe is "right", then we emotionally react. Oh - and we typically don't clearly let them know of these expectations up front. We'll call this set of guidelines that we have for others "The Manual".

Note, there is a difference between having expectations, policies, and procedures in the workplace. The Manual is different. As a boss, you can set clear expectations, communicate the company policies, and provide feedback. And, if the employee doesn't meet expectations as you've laid them out, you get to decide how to hold them accountable (or not). You don't have to be upset if they don't do what's expected. You don't have to make it mean something about you. That's totally up to you.

Having the Manual for employees can result in a spiral of negativity when we try to control them by getting them to behave in a certain way so that we can feel better about the situation. We can set up expectations and make requests of our employees, but we don't have to allow our emotional state to be dependent upon whether those expectations and requests are met.

An example of this could be:

Employee shows up late to work.

Boss thinks: Employees should show up on time. If they arrive late, they don’t respect me. They are lazy. Boss gets angry and takes it personally. Boss doesn’t get curious about why it’s happening, how to support the employee and how to hold employee accountable.

How to put this into practice:

  • Notice if you have thoughts that pop up that sound like a Manual for others. Usually, a good clue is if there’s a “should” in that thought.

  • If you find yourself getting frustrated with how an employee is behaving at work, ask yourself: Did I set a clear expectation up front? Did I clearly ask for what I needed? Or did I expect them to just "get it" and know my expectation without ever having told them?

If this resonates with you and you have a specific situation that you want to dive deeper into, CLICK HERE to set up a free call with me to discuss it further.

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Elisia Keown, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Elisia has 21 years of experience and a passion for coaching leaders, which makes her uniquely qualified to be the perfect coach for you. She's managed multiple geographically dispersed retail locations and led teams of employees numbering in the hundreds. She knows the importance of delegation, clear communication, and the power of direct feedback for development. She can help you organize yourself, your time, and your team to focus on the right priorities to drive results.

She's led Talent Acquisition teams and has global recruiting experience. She learned quickly how hiring and retaining the right talent in a business truly impacts results. She can help you decipher if you have the right team in place to support you and what to do if you don't. She's supported multiple leaders of large teams (some managing up to 30,000+ employees) with all aspects of Human Resources.

She's coached leaders to manage the performance of their teams, including having the most difficult and emotional conversations. She's helped leaders navigate through internal politics and helped them learn how to have a productive working relationship with their boss.

She can support you with all of this and more.



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