A leader is someone who encourages those in their team. Being a leader means being an empowering figure for a company. A boss should be a leader and not a tyrant or a bully. Although this is not something directly related to the translation industry, it is something I feel very strongly about and something I see happening very frequently.
In the last decades, the workplace has suffered a huge transformation. Advances in technology created a culture of “here and now”. If you have a smartphone you can answer calls or check emails any time of the day, if there’s a task to be completed, you are supposed to do it now, it doesn’t matter if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. This led to a toxic culture, where employees are considered the property of the company, disrespected on a regular basis, and management seems to believe it is entitled to that disrespect. It happens in workplaces around the world, from very small family businesses to multi-national companies.
A boss is a leader. A good manager leads the way for the team, working with the team, for the team. Answers questions, trains staff. In my view, to be a good boss one must know the work back to front, to be able to delegate and show how it’s done, should there be any questions. A leader must grow with the team, hear from them, learn from them because that’s how we all grow. A true leader is the one who trusts their team and gives them the freedom to do their job.
A toxic job
I read a comment on social media the other day, and I strongly believe it is true. “You don’t leave a job; you leave a toxic culture”. Employees make a company flourish and grow. If the staff is unhappy, overworked or bullied they won’t be able to reach their full potential, and that will hurt the company and will hurt them.
A good company culture, where employees feel empowered to give ideas, feeling they belong and their contribution is valued, will make them feel good and more productive.
If a person is not respected in their workplace, if they are bullied, undermined, questioned and constantly under unnecessary and unreasonable pressure, they won’t be able to do it 100%. It is bad for the company as it does not meet its targets; it is bad for the abused staff who start having stress and sometimes mental issues because of that toxic workplace; and for the economy, since the lack of productivity and healthcare costs are very high.
A lot of employees quit, and they quit not because of the job, they quit because of the toxic culture and that toxic boss. Sometimes, it is not even a boss, but someone who perceives themselves as being in a position of power. I’ve experienced that in my first job in a supermarket and, lately, I’ve seen it happening to very close friends of mine.
The bottom line
Narcissistic and immature managers may simply look at the company’s accounts and analyse the entire company through its financial reports. In my opinion, that will only lead to failure. When the results are not there, we need to know why they are not there, not just simply point fingers and make simplistic assumptions. Sometimes the company has lots of unnecessary costs because a bad manager failed to address the problem, most certainly, that manager is the reason for the problem. Looking at the balance sheet is crucial, but before looking into the balance sheet one must understand that it is a reflection of the company culture and that culture won’t be quantified in the reports, or at least not directly. A bullied employee who has to take a sick day because they are suffering from extreme stress or depression will affect the company as they’re still paid and don’t work. But it does not appear in the balance sheet the reason for that absence, nor the personal costs it had on that particular employee.
Fortunately, not all bosses are bad. In fact, we may find some of the most successful business people in the world understand the need for a great relationship with their staff. Recently, I saw an interview with Sir Richard Branson where he said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. I really admire Sir Richard Branson. If someone like him understands this, it’s hard for me to believe that a lot of people can’t see it that way.
Ultimately, I think it all comes to respect. We should all respect each other, and we should all help each other because we all need each other. People who think they don’t need others, live in a fictitious world.