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Mark Craig learned the hard way that all that glitters is not gold.
In recent months he bought up several cases of BrewDog beer hoping to find one of fifty ‘solid gold’ beer cans which the company had hidden as part of a promotion and which it said were worth £15,000.
To his amazement, he struck lucky.
He started making plans to fund his wedding by selling the gold. But when he asked BrewDog to certify the can, he was told that it was made of brass and was only gold-plated.
BrewDog’s shiny promise was only skin deep.
The irony is that the same month that Mr Craig was left holding his brass paper weight, over 250 BrewDog employees also criticised the company for failing to live up to its promises.
In a public letter, they said that under BrewDog’s claims to be a ‘great employer’ and ‘passionate advocates for doing things the right way’ was actually a toxic culture which meant ‘being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given.’
We’ve examined the employees’ letter and BrewDog’s response. Both provide lessons on how bad management practices can seep into organisations and how you can respond if they do.
We’ll only begin to understand the full mental health toll of the pandemic years from now. However, there is some consistency in the findings of various employee surveys which are worth noting as you continue to support your teams.
CharlieHR, a UK-based HR software provider, used data from a survey of 1,460 UK employees to look at the state of mental health at work. Their findings may sound familiar. They echo other surveys we’ve read and we wanted to publish the main points to remind managers of the pressures that their teams are likely still feeling.
Now, we acknowledge that this data was initially collected by a company seeking to sell mental health software solutions. But even if a fraction of those numbers above are reflective of our teams, there’s an awful lot of work to do.
And underlying all of this, we as managers face significant challenges in helping. According to the survey, 4 in 5 managers didn’t feel equipped to manage employee mental health issues. This really resonates. It’s one of the hardest things we’re called upon to do.
If you’d like more guidance on how to help your team through issues like this, you may wish to discuss specific training with your own manager when you next meet with them.
Leading with ‘influence rather than authority’ is a classic of management training jargon.
As with many of these things, it’s fundamentally right, but it’s also much harder to put into practice than a pithy phrase or tweet might suggest.
One issue with expanding or using your influence is that even if it’s for others’ benefit, it can often be perceived that you’re doing it at someone else’s expense.
Some team members/bosses/peers may see influence in the workplace as a zero-sum game, where if you’re accruing it, they must be losing it. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll often find your ideas and attempts to influence shut down, regardless of how helpful they are.
In our conversations with managers, sometimes certain quotes just stick with us.
Last year, when we asked someone what support they’d got in the role, they replied that their company tended to focus on quick perks rather than investing in their people. Or as they put it:
‘I don’t want free fucking cinema tickets, I want actual career opportunities’
They didn’t realise how right they were.
Since that conversation, we continue to see evidence that this is team members’ highest priority from their managers. We saw it in our piece on ‘The Number One Thing a Manager can do for their Team’s Development’ and it came up again this week in a recent survey by Qualtrics of why people are leaving their jobs.
According to their survey of 1,000 US employees, 23% of those who plan to leave their jobs in the next year are doing so for further career growth opportunities.
This perhaps isn’t surprising given that the same survey found that 64% of employees said their employer didn’t offer mentoring or networking opportunities in the past year, and 60% said the same about professional development and training. There were also noticeable and concerning differences between the responses from men and women.
Another reminder to make sure that your team members consistently have new challenges to focus on and grow into.
Not just free fucking cinema tickets.