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How do you handle toxic bosses?
InterAksyon columnist and human resources expert Reylito Elbo has an inbox filled with variations on this question.
This is why he says bosses should be proactive, instead of just waiting for things to happen, he said in a discussion of work-related issues at the first InterAksyon.com Online On-site event at the Enterprise Center Friday.
Eighty percent of all problems can be traceable to management, while only 20 percent is traceable to workers, Elbo said, citing his idol, American statistician W. E. Deming.
Managers should be able to motivate their employees, as well as create a positive working environment.
Here are some strategies recommended by Elbo, the man dubbed "The Problem-Employee Whisperer" after the American TV show where the host helps out problem dogs and their owners.
1. Undertake an employee opinion survey.
To be undertaken at least once every two years by the human resources department, the survey will allow management to feel the "pulse" of its workers. What do they think about their boss' management style? Their working conditions? Their salaries?
The company must get external consultants to conduct the survey so employees will answer honestly. Employees must also answer anonymously to preempt concerns of any form retaliation.
Management must also be transparent about the survey results and share them with their employees. They must address the concerns raised and implement changes if needed. If changes cannot be made, they must also explain why.
2. Conduct informal meetings.
Companies can also think of these as kapihan or kumustahan.
During his years in the banking industry, Elbo attended monthly gatherings that brought employees (usually birthday celebrants for the month) and management together.
Under the initiative, the President is expected to answer all questions raised, even personal ones.
Meetings like these allow employees to talk directly to management. The latter can monitor specific concerns and make sure they are addressed.
However, ground rules should be set for these gatherings.
Management will also do well to treat their employees every now and then to food and drinks.
It can be a way of marking milestones. Often, one bilao of pancit will do to celebrate an achievement, Elbo said.
3. Create an employee suggestion program (ESP).
Under the program, each worker is expected to come up with one idea--any idea--each month. This is one way for employees to communicate with management.
Toyota engineers were forced to stand inside a circle until they came up with an idea to improve operations, Elbo said, citing the Toyota Productive System (TPS).
"'We are hiring you not for the purpose of working, but for the purpose of thinking,' TPS creator Taiichi Ono used to tell employees," Elbo said.
In an ESP that Elbo spearheaded when he was still working for a bank, employees were even paid for their suggestions if these resulted in company savings.
4. Implement a 360-degree feedback mechanism.
The mechanism allows a manager to be evaluated by his underlings, his peers, and his bosses.
However, these efforts can be half-baked especially since Filipino bosses find it difficult to be assessed by people under his supervision.
5. Establish a quality circle.
A quality circle is a group of five to seven people who voluntarily join a group to identify and solve problems.
Management should be like chameleons, said Elbo. They must be able to adapt to their environment easily.
"To predict the future, you should create the future," he added.
Management should foster an environment where workers can ventilate their issues.
Boosting employee productivity doesn't need to be an expensive affair. Management can simply use motivational tools like those Elbo mentioned.
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