By Lauren | July 9, 2010
Continuing my Friday series on keeping your business out of court, let’s talk about a mistake that managers make all too often. A friend of mine (let’s call her Sam) was complaining recently about her new boss. Seems that the boss who hired her has left for greener pastures, and her new boss has a foul temper. She screams, throws things, and constantly belittles her employees. Sam and her colleagues are scared to death of their new “wicked witch,” and several of them already have their resumes out, looking for less volatile working conditions.
One good reason to avoid making life a living hell for your staff is that you increase your company’s risk of being sued for discrimination. An employee who’s routinely subjected to abuse can claim that you’re acting out of prejudice against that employee based on race, gender, age, religion, or some other protected characteristic. You may be able to defend the suit by proving that you’re nasty to everyone, but it will cost you precious time and money to do so (not to mention how the rest of your employees are likely to react when they find out that you know how obnoxious you are).
But there’s at least one more reason why it’s not a good idea to torture your staff. According to a recent study by The British Medical Journal, employees who are subjected to rudeness in the workplace are much more likely to make mistakes. And it’s not just true of employees who are the direct target of abuse; employee bystanders are similarly affected just by watching the boom come down. Employee mistakes make for angry clients and customers and, as I’ve discussed many times on this blog, angry clients and customers are much more likely to sue.
So if you’re one of those bosses who thinks that blowing your stack is the way to command outstanding performances from your employees, think again. Get a punching bag for your office if you must, but remember this: keeping your temper will help keep your business out of court.