Dear Bosses: Yelling at your employees doesn’t work

in Potpourri by

As an employer, you want your employees to be happy and successful.  In point of fact, you NEED them to be happy and successful.

But nobody is perfect and your workers are bound to make mistakes.  How you respond is critical, and you will find that certain approaches work better than others.  Shrieking, “what the hell is wrong with you?!” is a gut reaction but is it productive? What’s the long-term result?  It’s a point of interest for Stanford University neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty, who believes compassion – as opposed to frustration and remonstrance – is key. As Emma Seppälä outlines in the Harvard Business Review, Doty’s tips for employers highlight curiosity and interest.


This is why emotional intelligence (E.Q.) is so important in the workplace.  Recent research has indicated that “feelings of warmth and positive relationships at work have a greater say over employee loyalty than the size of their paycheck.”  A new study by Jonathan Haidt of New York University shows that employees are often moved by their employers’ passion and kindness and as a result, they are more loyal.  In other words, it might not be beneficial to adopt a Machiavellian approach to employee management.


Earlier this year, we saw the release of The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work (McGraw-Hill, 2015), which bolstered the claim that recognizing employee achievement supersedes punishment.  Rather than increasing stress – which, as Doty noted in Seppälä’s HBR article – a boss should seek to create a calm, cheerful, ultimately productive environment.  That’s why Doty’s tips include “take a moment” and “putting yourself in your employees’ shoes.” To forgive and forget appears to be the best course of action.

It’s easy to lose it when an employee screws up, but don’t let your anger dictate. It’s not about coddling or letting things slide; it’s about E.Q. It’s about relationships.

Recommended Reading:


Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They’re Real People (McGraw-Hill, 2015)

New York Times bestselling author Rodd Wagner says: “Your people are not your greatest asset.  They’re not yours, and they’re not assets.” Wagner is one of the leading authorities on employee performance today, and he has plenty of advice concerning employer-employee relations. For instance, reducing individuals to “human resources” isn’t a good idea and in fact, treating employees like people makes the most sense.

figured it all out too late. He got his degree in Psychology and realized years later that he wanted to write for a living. He now has 16+ years of digital and print journalism experience and currently entertains an ongoing love affair with the greatest literary classics (he savored every page of "War and Peace" and thought it could've been longer, and he will finish Proust's "In Search of Lost Time"). He also loves crossword puzzles, tennis, the outdoors, and working on numerous novels. One of these days, one will get picked up...and when it does, the world will make a little more sense.

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