Hey, all you screamers out there…this post’s for you.

Posted August 18, 2009 in Communication, Latest News & Insights

Recently I’ve been ranting with friends about leaders who are under the delusion that screaming at their staff is an effective management technique.  Now, to be clear… I’m not talking about dramatic emphasis that may involve raised voices to press a point to the troupes.  Personally, I’ve always been a believer that a well timed rant (sans personal jibes) can be an effective technique to instill a bit of a fighting spirit.  What I’m talking about is over emotional screaming that occurs when a leader has lost personal control.

I recently polled a couple of senior HR leaders I know on why some leaders continue to throw temper tantrums (and sometimes other objects).  After sharing their own horror stories, Kim made the valid point that, in years gone by, managers could get away with that type of ridiculous behaviour because of the overload of talent.

Well, to all you screamers out there… the times they have been a changin’.  Today, smart talented people are hard to find.  And, not too many of them are going to stick around and put up with that type of abuse in the workplace.

The topic did, however, give me pause for thought.  I began to wonder… is losing your cool and screaming names at your staff ever a good idea?

As luck would have it, the answer came in the form of the Discovery Network’s show: The Deadliest Catch which follows the lives of Alaskan King Crab fishing crews.  After watching these Bering Sea captains keep their crews in line, my opinion of screaming as a legit management technique changed.  In certain cultures and environments, it’s not just legit… it’s appears to be a core tool.

The decisions these captains are making are literally LIFE and DEATH, so it’s natural for emotions to be amped up.  Not to mention the fact that crab fisherman are a rough and tumble lot who enjoy the occasional fist fight in between hauls.  A captain has to be as tough, if not tougher than the crew to keep them in line.

But here’s the reality for most of us: the workplace stakes we’re dealing with aren’t that high; the “crew” we’re managing are mostly the types that keep their tattoos hidden under their suit jackets and have probably never been in a schoolyard rumble, never mind a full on fist fight; and most of the pressure we feel around our work is self inflicted.  On a day to day basis, your direct reports won’t actually die from their poor decision-making skills nor will you kill them with yours.

If flipping your biscuit is something you do on a regular basis, it’s time to think about dialing down the drama.  Begin to take a close look at your triggers and see if you can find what’s driving you to lose your temper.  Remember, it’s much easier to change your own behaviour than to change someone else’s (but that’s a topic for another blog).  Unless you’re in a daily life or death battle, it’s time to tone it down.  Either that or put your lungs to use on the Bering Sea.  Captaining a crab boat may be just what the career doctor ordered.

Happy leading!


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