Being a good boss_VBF event_London Vet Show_16 November 2012


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Being a good boss_VBF event_London Vet Show_16 November 2012

  1. 1. Being a good bossEvidence-based tips from researchDavid Bartram |
  2. 2. Who in the audience isa boss or has a boss?
  3. 3. Most of us work in a matrix so, to anextent, we’re all bosses and need to behave as such
  4. 4. Structure of presentation• Background• Positive manager behaviours – Self-awareness – Appropriate assertiveness – Make time for people – Empower people – Eliminate negativity – Impart durable skills and wisdom• Closing thoughts
  5. 5. Mental ill-health in the profession• Elevated prevalence of depression and/or anxiety symptoms• Elevated 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation• Elevated suicide risk Bartram, D.J., Yadegarfar, G. and Baldwin, D.S. (2009) Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 44, 1075-1085 Bartram, D.J. and Baldwin, D.S. (2010) Veterinary Record 166, 388-397 Platt, B., Hawton, K., Simkin, S. and Mellanby, R. (2010) Occupational Medicine 60, 436-446 Roberts, S.E., Jaremin, B. and Lloyd, K. (2012) Psychological Medicine doi: 10.1017/S0033291712002024
  6. 6. Psychological distress commonly attributed to problems at work Main attributable causes of suicidal thoughts : work-related factors 61% of participants spousal relationship problems 19% of participants Vet suicidal thoughts mental health 7% of participants and behaviour Interview study 1 Work-related attributions of difficulties included: n=84 work intensity (pace and volume) duration of working hours and associated effects on personal lives feeling undervalued by senior staff and/or managementVet suicidal thoughts Over 50% identified contributory work-related factors: and behaviour workplace relationships Interview study 2 concerns about their career n=21 patient issues; number of hours and volume of work1. Bartram, D.J. et al. Understanding suicidal thoughts and help-seeking behaviour in the UK veterinary profession: a semi-structured interview study (in preparation) ; 2. Platt, B., Hawton, K., Simkin, S., Dean, R. and Mellanby, R.J. (2012) Crisis 33, 280-289
  7. 7. Employment is most commonissue for callers to Vet Helpline 2011 data Note: Some callers presented / described two or more issues VBF (2012) Annual Report and Accounts 2011, p.16
  8. 8. Selected results from a recent comprehensive survey of UK veterinary practices• 62% of staff state there is a great deal of trust in the team• 76% of staff state the relationship between management and teams is generally good• 43% of staff state they do not receive a formal appraisal meeting• 23% of employees believe their management team are not accessible• 30% of staff do not believe communication is good in their practice• 52% of staff do not believe they receive ongoing communications about their performance• 52% of staff believe poor performers are not managed effectively• 51% of staff do not have a personal development plan
  9. 9. RCVS Survey 2010• 57% of recently qualified VSs received appraisals in their first year in practice• One third of these appraisals took into account their progress with the PDP veterinary-professions-2010/
  10. 10. Relevance to employers of being a good boss: Legal case• Employment rights and duties • Equality – Contract of employment – Discrimination – Health and safety • Job security – Wages and working time – Dismissal – Child care and time off – Redundancy – Occupational pensions • Professional conduct – Income tax and insurance – RCVS – Civil liberties at work• Workplace participation – Trade unions
  11. 11. Relevance to employers of being a good boss: Business case • Costs – Employee commitment, satisfaction, engagement, performance, productivity, staff recruitment and retention, organisational image and reputation • Bad bosses negate other investments – Other approaches to increase employee engagement — excellent rewards, career paths, stimulating work environments, EAPs, health insurance, and other perks — have limited effect on the people stuck with bad bosses • Good bosses lead and encourage employees to increase revenue – Strong correlation between employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and revenueBond, F.W. et al (2006) A business case for the Management Standards for stress. Research report 431. HSE.SAINSBURY CENTRE FOR MENTAL HEALTH (2007) Mental health at work: developing the business case. Policy paper 8Zenger, J. and Folkman, J. (2012) How damaging is a bad boss, exactly? Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 16 July 2012
  12. 12. Relevance to employers of being a good boss: Ethical case• Enables people to develop to their full potential – including the boss!• Research demonstrates strong links between stress and… – physical effects: heart disease, back pain, headaches – psychological effects: anxiety and depression – poor coping strategies: skipping meals, drinking too much caffeine/alcohol, smoking – applies to the boss too!Stansfeld, D.S., Head, J. and Marmot, M. (2000) Work-related factors and ill-health: the Whitehall II study. Contractresearch report 266/2000. Sudbury, HSE.
  13. 13. A look at manager behaviour Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office, BBC©
  14. 14. 2-minute discussion Manager behaviourReflect on a situation at work where your boss’s behaviour was particularly good or bad Discuss with your neighbour… 1:00 1:01 1:02 1:03 1:04 1:05 1:06 1:07 1:08 1:09 1:10 1:12 1:13 1:14 1:15 1:16 1:17 1:18 1:19 1:20 1:21 1:22 1:23 1:24 1:25 1:26 1:27 1:28 1:29 1:30 1:31 1:32 1:33 1:34 1:35 1:36 1:37 1:38 1:39 1:40 1:41 1:42 1:43 1:44 1:45 1:46 1:47 1:48 1:49 1:50 1:51 1:52 1:53 1:54 1:55 1:56 1:57 1:58 1:59 2:00 0:01 0:02 0:03 0:04 0:05 0:06 0:07 0:08 0:09 0:10 0:12 0:13 0:14 0:15 0:16 0:17 0:18 0:19 0:20 0:21 0:22 0:23 0:24 0:25 0:26 0:27 0:28 0:29 0:30 0:31 0:32 0:33 0:34 0:35 0:36 0:37 0:38 0:39 0:40 0:41 0:42 0:43 0:44 0:45 0:46 0:47 0:48 0:49 0:50 0:51 0:52 0:53 0:54 0:55 0:56 0:57 0:58 0:59 1:11 0:11 End
  15. 15. Positive manager behaviour Respectful and responsible • Integrity • Is a good role model • Treats people with respect • Contract of employment; appropriate rewards • Managing emotions • Acts calmly in pressured situations • Consistent in mood • Considerate approach • Shows consideration for work-life balance • Gives more positive than negative feedback • Supporting an unwell colleague in the workplace • Supporting return to work after a period of absenceYarker, J., Lewis, R., Donaldson-Feilder, E. and Flaxman, P. (2007) Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work. HMSO.
  16. 16. Positive manager behaviour Managing and communicating future and existing work • Proactive work management • Problem-solving • Encourages ownership of problems • Provides support for prompt resolution • Participative/empowering • Acts as a mentor • Keeps employees informed of what is happening in the organisation • Encourages team participation • Supports professional developmentYarker, J., Lewis, R., Donaldson-Feilder, E. and Flaxman, P. (2007) Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work. HMSO.
  17. 17. Positive manager behaviour Reasoning/ managing difficult situations • Managing conflict • Create teams that feel psychologically safe enough for conflicting opinions to be aired and the benefits of diversity exploited • Use of appropriate resources • Vet Helpline, VSHSP, VBF, Vetlife website • BVA Legal helpline • Taking responsibility for resolving issues • Addresses bullying • Follows up conflicts after resolutionYarker, J., Lewis, R., Donaldson-Feilder, E. and Flaxman, P. (2007) Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work. HMSO.
  18. 18. Positive manager behaviour Managing the individual within the team • Personally accessible • Provides regular opportunities to speak one-to-one • Is available to talk when needed • Sociable • Empathetic engagement • Listens when employees ask for help • Takes an interest in team’s life outside work • Treats all team members with equal importance • Checks rather than assumes that employees are OKYarker, J., Lewis, R., Donaldson-Feilder, E. and Flaxman, P. (2007) Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work. HMSO.
  19. 19. Self-awareness• “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Lord Acton [1834-1902]• Recognise that because you wield power over others, you are at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk – and not realising it• Beware the ‘toxic tandem’
  20. 20. The toxic tandem• People who gain authority over others tend to become more self-centred and less mindful of what others need, do, and say.• Problem is compounded because a boss’s self- absorbed words and deeds are scrutinised so closely by his or her followers.• These tendencies make for a ‘toxic tandem’• It’s in our evolutionary biology… Sutton, R. I.(2009) Harvard Business Review 87, 42-50
  21. 21. A typical member of a baboon troop glances at the alpha male every 20 to 30 seconds; the alpha does not return the favour Tiger, L. (1970) Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 1, 287-306
  22. 22. Power-poisoning• Effects of giving people power – Focus on their own needs and concerns – Focus little attention on the needs of others – Act like the rules don’t apply to them• The fallacy of centrality – Assumption that because one holds a central position, one automatically knows everything necessary to exercise effective leadership Keltner, D., Gruenfeld, D.H. and Anderson, C. (2003) Psychological Review 110, 265-284 Sutton, R. I.(2009) Harvard Business Review 87, 42-50 Westrum, R. (1982) Knowledge 3, 381-400
  23. 23. The cookie experiment Keltner, D., Gruenfeld, D.H. and Anderson, C. (2003) Psychological Review 110, 265-284Ward, G. and Keltner, D. (1998) Power and the consumption of resources. Unpublished manuscript
  24. 24. The cookie experiment• Teams of three students each were instructed to produce a short paper• Two members of each team were randomly assigned to write the paper• The third member evaluated it and determined how much the other two would be paid, in effect making them subordinates• About 30 mins into the meeting, the researcher brought in a plate of five cookies — a welcome break that was, in fact, the focus of the experiment• No one was expected to reach for the last cookie on the plate, and no one did. Basic manners dictate such restraint.• But what of the fourth cookie — the extra one that could be taken without negotiation or an awkward moment? It turns out that a little taste of power has a substantial effect. The ‘bosses’ not only tended to take the fourth cookie but also displayed signs of ‘disinhibited’ eating, chewing with their mouths open and scattering crumbs widely. Keltner, D., Gruenfeld, D.H. and Anderson, C. (2003) Psychological Review 110, 265-284 Ward, G. and Keltner, D. (1998) Power and the consumption of resources. Unpublished manuscript
  25. 25. Appropriate assertiveness• Striking the right balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough is immensely important to being (and being perceived as) a great boss• Flexibility: modulate between pushing people hard enough at certain times, and backing off appropriately at other times• Enables bosses to be seen as motivating and engaged, but not as bullying or micro-managing Ames, D.R. and Flynn, F.J. (2007) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92, 307-324
  26. 26. Strong opinions, weakly held• Strive to be confident enough to – convince people that you are in charge, but – humble enough to realise that you’re often wrong• Argue as if you are right; listen as if you are wrong• The people we consider wise: – have courage to act on their beliefs and convictions – have humility to realise they may be wrong, and – must be prepared to change their beliefs and actions when better information comes along Sutton, R.I. (2010) A great boss is confident, but not really sure. Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 15 July 2010
  27. 27. “Managing is like holding a dove in your hand. If you hold it too tightly you kill it, but if you hold it too loosely, you lose it” – Tommy Lasorda, Baseball Player and Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers Lasorda, T. and Fisher, D. (1986) The Artful Dodger. Harpercollins Sutton, R.I. (2010) The delicate art of being perfectly assertive. Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 28 June 2010
  28. 28. Make time for people• Practise active listening – Seek first to understand, then to be understood – Schedule a mutually convenient time to meet, when you set your work aside, ignore your phone, and give your employee your undivided attention – Demonstrate that you have ‘heard’ by summarising their position back to them and taking action – Try to understand things from their perspective – Be curious about their opinions and attitudes: ask open questions• Don’t act as if you’re listening and let it go in one ear and out the other – Faking it is worse than not doing it at all• Develop a culture of mutual support and collaboration Bregman, P. (2011) How to really listen. Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 19 October 2011
  29. 29. Empower people to empower themselves• Encourage and support the decision-making environment• Give employees the tools, knowledge, discretion and autonomy they need to make, act upon and own their decisions• Empowerment to use initiative and solve their own problems and challenges at work• Support people to learn to stand on their own two feet – reduce neediness• Learn to delegate – Involves giving up control! – Will free up time for the boss to teach, listen… – The boss does not have to generate the most revenue!Goldsmith, M. (2010) Empowering your employees to empower themselves. Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 23 April 2010
  30. 30. “After you plant a seed in the ground, you don’t dig it up every week to see how it is doing” – William Coyne, Head of R&D, 3M Sutton, R.I. (2010) Harvard Business Review 88, 106-109
  31. 31. Dealing with bad apples…
  32. 32. Minimise the negative• Bad is stronger than good – It is more important to minimise the negative than to accentuate the positive – Negative interaction with the boss or a co-worker affects our mood 5x more than a positive interaction• Effect of toxic colleagues on work groups – Withholders of effort, those who express pessimism, anxiety, insecurity, and irritation, de-energisers, and those who violate interpersonal norms of respect – A team with just one person in any of these categories suffers a performance disadvantage of 30% to 40% compared to teams that have no bad apples Baumeister, R.F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C. and Vohs, K.D. (2001) Review of General Psychology 5, 323-370 Felps, W., Mitchell, T.R. and Byington, E. (2006) Research in Organizational Behavior 27, 175-222 Miner, A.G., Glomb, T.M. and Hulin, C. (2005) Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology 78, 171-195
  33. 33. Minimise the negative• Bosses of the most productive groups – Confront problems directly and quickly, issue more warnings and formal punishments, and promptly fire employees when warnings fail• This inspires performance – Their intolerance of poor work is crystal clear• Employees respect bosses more when destructive characters are reprimanded swiftly and intensely – Provided they are fair and consistent• The upshot – Doing such "dirty work" is part of a boss’s job – Doing it doesnt make you a jerk – If you cant or wont, team up with someone who can Felps, W., Mitchell, T.R. and Byington, E. (2006) Research in Organizational Behavior 27, 175-222 OReilly, C.A. and Weitz, B.A. (1980) Administrative Science Quarterly 25, 467-484
  34. 34. Impart durable skills and wisdom• Teaching, coaching, mentoring – learning are the essence of an effective boss – employee relationship• Major part of effective supervision• Learned better work methods persist from one boss to the next (cf. motivation)• Includes soft skills• Match workers and bosses according to performance – Effect of good bosses on high quality workers > effect of good bosses on lower quality workers Lazear, E.P., Shaw, K.L. and Stanton, C.T. (2012) National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper. No. 18317.
  35. 35. Two diagnostic questions• Do you know what it feels like to work for/with you?• If they had the choice, would your people elect to work for/with you again?
  36. 36. Bosses are self-deluding …and so is everyone else• Some bosses live in a fools paradise• “Self-enhancement bias”• It is the most deeply incompetent people who make the most inflated self-assessments Kruger, J. and Dunning, D. (2009) Psychology 1, 30-46
  37. 37. Available at:
  38. 38. Closing thoughts…• All of us have been faced with the extra cookie• All of us will be faced with many more of them• In time we will find it easy to assume that we deserve the extra cookie• For all I know, we may• But we’ll be happier, and the world will be better off, if we at least pretend that we don’t
  39. 39. Try to be a good role model…
  40. 40. Try to be a good role model…
  41. 41. Being a good boss is a matter ofconscious choice and discipline Are you the good boss you need to be?