Tuesday, October 16, 2012

5 Good Reasons to Stop Yelling

"If you're yelling you're the one who's lost control of the conversation." ~Taylor Swift

Early the other morning I was out walking my dog. As we came along side a nearby golf course, I heard cursing at a high volume. Holy Guacamole, the line-up of descriptive words a crew boss was laying on a young kid about his lack of intelligence was quite colorful. It made me anxious, to say the least.

Listening to the berating language brought back memories of yelling bosses from my past. They may have had some great qualities, but I sure can't remember them. All I remember was what a jerk they were and how bad it made me feel.

Why do bosses yell at their workers?

For some people yelling has become a habit. They simply don't realize they do it. For others, they shamefully acknowledge that they lose control and feel badly once they've cooled down. I know of a few that believe it's actually good for their people, using an athletic coach approach to managing their team.

Almost always a boss climbs up and down an employee out of frustration. There are a few out there who bully and repress employees out of a mean spirit. However, in working with hundreds of managers and supervisors, I can confidently state that it's one of these - irritation, disturbance, annoyance, vexation, exasperation, infuriation, weariness, disappointment, aggravation - all words for being frustrated.

5 good reasons to stop yelling

Popping one's top doesn't make the problem go away. In fact, it makes things worse. More than just bruising employee's feelings, yelling messes with people and their ability to work. It lessens productivity. Which means a lower bottom fiscal line for your business. When you yell it can have the following effects:
  1. Employees get sick. Literally. Research conducted by Duke University demonstrates that the stress of being subjected to hostility lowers the immune system. By constantly yelling at your staff, you are creating more sick leave and lower productivity.
  2. Your people get dumber, not smarter. Studies in neuroscience show that when an employee feels their job is threatened, it triggers the flight-or-fight mechanism. This impairs analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving. Yelling at them is a sure-fire way to put their spark out.
  3. Moral nosedives. Perceived hostility affects productivity and shuts down enthusiasm. Time is wasted with negative talk at the water cooler. And, once the situation is recognized, it takes a lot of time and effort to heal those battle wounds
  4. Resentment and sabotage. Yelling can be taken as a personal affront (which it usually is), and   resentment may build to destructive behaviors. People can get creative when they're angry. Anything from work stoppages to stealing to destroying equipment. All are forms of getting even.
  5. It's not a good way to get promoted. We all know it's not professional  If you want to be the next candidate on the promotion list, use your powers of persuasion and empowerment to get people to do their work. Bad behavior is rarely rewarded with a promotion.

How can you break the yelling habit?

Yelling, screaming, berating - whatever you call it, is a managerial tool that just doesn't work. It will take effort and self-control to back out of the position of being frustrated. Place your focus on yourself. Analyze the reasons you're at the yelling point. In the process, ask if there are things you should have done to eliminate the problem. Check to see if you've clearly (not yelling) stated what you expect, including how and when you want things done. Ask yourself if your people have the tools, time, skills to perform to your expectations. 

Want to take it a step further?

Here's a managerial tool you might want to add to your tool belt. This is a book from my library that I highly recommend. Crucial Confrontations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. The authors show you how to achieve personal, team, and organizational success by healing broken promises, resolving violated expectations, and influencing good behavior. "Crucial Confrontations" teaches skills drawn from 10,000 hours of real-life observations to increase confidence in facing employee issues.

Really, there are countless reasons to stop yelling in the work place. Let's start by being patient. Patient with your people, and with yourself. At the end of the day, you and your staff will feel a whole lot better about the  work you're doing together. 

You might find a few more nuggets of gold in these posts as well: Happy Employees and  You Have the Power

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