Leaders unknowingly destroy trust, undermine productivity, increase employee stress, and decrease engagement through inconsistent behaviors and practices. Substitute the word “leader” for salesperson, administrator, teacher, coach or parent, and the statement still rings true.
Recent research even suggests employees prefer a supervisor who consistently acts like a jerk rather than an unpredictable one who wavers between fairness and unfairness. Turns out erratic supervisors create higher levels of physiological stress in their employees than those who were treated poorly with consistency. Emotional exhaustion occurs when employees walk around on eggshells trying to second-guess how another will act or react to the same situation.
Perhaps you’ve witnessed a supervisor who ignores one employee’s late arrival while another gets reprimanded. Or, a high-producing salesperson who often gets a pass for not attending the mandatory Friday meeting. These examples increase conflict and decrease motivation amongst the team. If you can’t trust your fearless leader to play fair, rather than playing favorites, staying loyal and engaged becomes impossible.
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How leaders can up their consistency quotient:
- Make time to connect and communicate. Demanding careers leave little space on your calendar for conversations, but make space anyway. How else can you learn what’s really going on in the trenches with your employees and how best to support their growth? How else can you provide accurate, healthy feedback? How else can you share your company’s vision and values if you aren’t blocking time to make it happen? Well-run team meetings effectively communicate with many, but one-on-one’s deliver priceless insight and make others feel valued.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say. Following through on your word gives people clarity and peace of mind. Rather than worrying about or doubting a situation, employees jump into action with satisfaction.
- Stay the course. After committing to a plan of action, see it through to completion. Chasing the shiny new object or flavor of the month creates lack of focus for your team and devalues their work to date. Should an unforeseen situation demand you switch gears, see #1.
What strategies do you employ to remain consistent with those you lead?