Managers and business owners need to spend some time looking at things from other’s viewpoint. If you hire a team of people to work for you, how are you treating them? Are there some golden eggs you might be taking for granted? Is your leadership effective with these golden eggs?
When I speak to business crowds about leadership, I inevitably get questions about managing “up” the organization. The question is something like this:
I love our CEO but my immediate boss is a jerk. What should I do?
While I have written several articles about that question, I want to spend this time focused at those bosses who are the subject of the question. There are lots of reasons for such behavior by middle managers, but here’s my coaching tip… STOP IT!
There is a senior HR executive I knew who once advocated at this large, Fortune 100 company, that HR should support the managers, not the employees. The conventional wisdom is that, besides compliance issues, HR is about protecting and engaging employees. My HR friend said “protect from what?” Well, the answer is bad managers. So, the logic follows. Support, train, and improve the manager cadre within the company and you reduce or eliminate all of the employee issues.
Regardless of the size of your company, ‘people issues’ will always be the one biggest problem. Sadly, owners and managers frequently fall prey to swinging wide brushes when it comes to the staff for which you have responsibility. If you do have one, less than great employee, you tend to get slanted by that bad apple and start treating the whole crew with the same contempt. Your frustrations with one person should never influence your view of the whole team.
Perhaps even more importantly, you should never take your best performers for granted. Just because they are the ones you know you can rely upon, all the time, every time, you have to be sure they feel the love. You have to find ways to engage them, give recognition, and sustain their buy-in to you and the company.
I’ve known far too many superstars who have lost hope for feeling valued at their company. The best performers are usually the hottest commodities in the market place.So they leave with the losing manager wondering why?
Here are some things for Leadership to think about:
Your people are real – Every employee comes to work operating somewhere inside Maslow’s Hierarchy of human needs. Not every employee starts the day in the same mental state or emotional condition. Pressures at home or in the family can influence their demeanor. Extended struggles outside of work have impact on performance. Yes, personal problems should never be personnel issues, but they are. These factors can change daily. This is why being a manger or leader can be so hard.
As a manager, you have to be sensitive to where your employees are. I don’t mean physical location, although that can be factor (think soldiers sitting in a sand dune). Rather, the issue is whether they are ready to focus and contribute at their highest level. If you sense any deviation from a person’s normal mindset and attitude, check into what may be the cause.
You had no preparation – If you got promoted into the manager’s role without any prior experience or preparation to perform the duties, be honest about the gaps you have. Influencing others and having some level of authority is no time to fake it until you make it. Lives are at stake. Yes, you might have authority based on the position you have, but that only goes so far.
You need to get serious about growth and development of the areas where you are deficient. Find a mentor or coach to show you the way, answer questions, and build your confidence. Leverage your strengths, but agree to work on the weaknesses in your ability to lead others.
Flip the model – It is a very common practice in business to “hire fast and fire slow”. We make snap decisions about bringing people onto the team, yet we agonize over letting them go. This has a double down effect. If you make a bad hiring decision, why exaggerate it by waiting too long to let the person go?
Instead you should establish a longer, more methodical hiring protocol; give personality and proficiency tests, require multiple interviews, phone screen, and use behavioral based interview techniques. Make the process more thorough. I know an orthodontist who says he was once hiring his receptionist. He thought he had found the ideal candidate, but somewhere along the way to her first day at work she said “I don’t like kids.” WHOA! Someone who doesn’t like kids working in the front office of an orthodontist? Bad choice.
Once the hiring process is more detailed, your success should increase. However, when the person proves to be a bad fit, then let them go quickly. Do not make your golden eggs suffer the distraction of a poor performer on the team.
Check your recognition – Be sure you have something in place for recognizing the true golden eggs in your midst. Let those who perform the most know it. It doesn’t have to be a huge public program, but be sure each person knows you value their contribution to team success.
Make it a point to let the high achievers have a say in what is happening. Give their voice value and significance. You might still have to go another direction, but giving them time to buy-in is easier when they believe they have a voice.
[reminder]How are you protecting your golden eggs?[/reminder]