Things our bosses do that make us stupid (part 1 of 6) – “Don’t worry about it”

This is the first in a series of 6 blogs, in which we explore the things bosses and organizations do that make us, well, stupid. I know some of you don’t like the word ‘stupid,’ but I think it’s relevant here. One of the goals of leadership is to raise the collective and individual cognitive functions of their employees. And yet there are things that bosses do every day that do the exact opposite.

Bosses make us stupid when they say, “don’t worry about it.”

I can’t think of anything that makes me worry more than someone saying to me, “don’t worry about it.” And, it makes me stupid because while I’m attempting to follow my boss’s instruction to “not worry about it,” I’m likely making up huge stories about what they’re hiding from me. These stories, driven by fear and isolation from the truth, are likely to result in less objectivity and sound reasoning by far than if we’d had the conversation we should have had about whatever the issue might be.

Pretty much anything a boss does to disrespect or disregard their employees’ ability to absorb and deal with information is a bad thing – even if it means sharing bad news. Saying “don’t worry about it” is essentially disrespectful. It’s lousy psychology, and it makes me stupid.

Sharing more information with employees, rather than less, takes more time, and this additional time requirement may aggravate the hell out of those bosses who believe the world would be a better place if people would shut up, quit complaining, and do their damn job. But if you want a smart organization, one of the elements of that collective intelligence is the degree to which people are “in the loop.” More on this later.

Of course, if you have a pathological worrier on your team, you may need to help tamp down whatever fears they might have. But even with a tightly wound co-worker, withholding information is likely to fan their concerns, not calm them down.

And if you’re wondering when the next blog in this series will be released, don’t worry about it. I’ll let you know.  

About the Author

Sarah Thomson

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