Archive for the ‘Communication Skills for Managers’ Category
I believe that the ambiguity comes when we try to get our arms around exactly what is excessive? Most micromanagers I have encountered do not realize they micromanage—but their people do!
I think you would probably agree that an appropriate level of control is absolutely necessary to run a solid enterprise. But what is an appropriate level of control? When does a manager cross the line and get too controlling or suppressive?
On the other end of the spectrum, however, a manager could be seen as weak, disconnected or ambivalent if they under-manage. They could get too little performance from their people precisely because they fail to provide enough oversight!
Do you find it challenging to balance being totally in control—with not being overly-controlling?
Balanced managers find just the right mix of connecting, supervising, measuring, oversight, autonomy, and keeping people accountable to results—all without being over-the-top, control-freakish, or heavy-handed.
4 Differences of Being a Balanced Manager Versus A Painful Micromanager
- Micromanagement kills the spirit and drive of people by obsessing about the minutiae. Balanced managers may initiate projects, set the goals or parameters for associates and then get out of the way—but they immediately re-engage whenever projects stall out or lag behind. Micromanagers get in the way because they can’t release control.
- Micromanagement clogs up the free flow of creative energies and inspired efforts. Micromanagers often manage granularly, meaning that they drive hard for results by ruling with an iron thumb. I coached an executive of a small family business on his micromanaging tendencies a few years ago. He admitted to me that he personally approved and edited all memos that his executive team wrote before they could be sent out! What a waste of time! But this is just like micromanagers, rather than want summaries or highlights of progress they immerse into the micro level of projects or tasks and snuff the very life out of people. In contrast, balanced managers want the bigger picture, want to be copied on reports, and receiving a recap of a project’s status is fine with them. However, when goals or metrics are not being reached they look to get things back on course, quickly—and they re-engage as much as needed to achieve outcomes.
This begs the question: What do Gen Y workers want anyway? And what exactly do they expect from a boss in terms of managing work efforts, effectively?
To prepare for a meeting with city leaders, I recently met with an interesting Gen Y/Xer (she’s between the demographer lines) who works in a professional staff position in my city.
Our city, like others, is attempting to understand how we can do a better job of keeping our best/brightest talent here—and not move away to your city, for example!
When this young lady shared with me how much she had enjoyed working at a previous position in Washington, D.C. (prior to moving to my city of Springfield, MO) especially how she had loved working for the management at that organization, I was really curious. I asked her to explain exactly what the management had done to make it such a great work experience.
Her answer was insightful, it also serves as a good reminder for what many Gen Y workers want today.
What Gen Yers Wish Managers Knew About Managing:
- Shed titles. Contrast that with managers who use a title (and its authority) to control others. The managers at the Washington organization weren’t interested in ‘controlling’ but in collaborating with employees more effectively, hence they shed the formality of their titles and got on her level. While they still held a title, of course, they didn’t allow those titles to create distance or tension—as in I’m over you and I’m your boss so I do as I say.
Short article # 40
The article from BNET (link below) makes an apt point regarding employee praise, a point that should be common knowledge for any manager or leader:
- Principle: deserved praise is critical to feelings of connectedness, employee loyalty, as well as ongoing contribution of uninhibited effort.
One of my own consulting engagements closely mirrors the story told in the article: A small business client was suffering from accelerated turnover, and inexplicably, several professional staff level employees had resigned only months prior to collecting sizeable bonuses.
Can lack of praise or lack of relationship with one’s manager be a significant enough factor to prompt an employee to leave an employer, moreover, can it actually cause them to walk away from tens of thousands of dollars in bonus money? According to my first-hand experience, yes.
Short article #36 and #37 (combined)
Mainly, employees sensed that management really didn’t want their input. Two things in particular tipped them off.
First, nothing was ever acted on as a result of the input. Secondly, management never followed-up with employees later to discuss the ideas. (I realize ‘never’ is a big word… but it’s the word I most often hear from employees).
Thank goodness, many employee suggestions boxes, often located in the lunchroom or break room, went away. (I think they were turned into kindling wood, or hidden away in the closet by embarrassed managers).
Unfortunately however, suggestion boxes have now been replaced with more modern, but still largely ineffective methods for gathering employee input, such as:
- An “open door” management style which seemingly encourages openness from employees but rarely gets it.
- Employee forums. Such forums often turn into gripe sessions (at least that’s what I’m told by managers who don’t like doing them anymore.)
- Monthly or weekly staff meetings (aka “huddles” or “departmental meetings”) where the employee perspective is rarely garnered because such meetings are often monologues instead of productive, honest dialogues.
- Employee performance reviews. Too often reviews are one-way communications of arbitrary scores and ratings that have nothing to do with improving performance or building value into people. Secrets to Giving Employee Performance Reviews.
What’s wrong with the aforementioned methods for acquiring employee ideas and suggestions. Nothing! As long as, employee suggestions or ideas are handled effectively.
Highly effective managers are good at getting a steady stream of helpful, open dialogue from employees. Ideas they can use to cut costs, improve efficiencies and increase profits.
One of the best ways to start generating more useful employee input is by making sure you avoid the 6 Most Common Fumbles Handling Employee Input:
- Manager says they want input, but really doesn’t. He/she believes that the people in the company with all the answers are the people who hold titles, not the employees, because employees have a limited perspective.
Short article #32
Unnecessary interruptions, and interruptions which are important enough to make their way to your desk but are ill-timed, could often be handled at much better hours of the day. (Like when you’re not in the middle of really critical work or pressing deadlines.)
Successfully managing interruptions presents three immediate benefits:
One: helps us achieve higher levels of personal productivity.
Two: we can get more done at the office in less time, on time.
Three: we can get more done at the office which helps contribute to healthier work-life balance.
How much time does an interruption actually waste?
“What do you think?” asked the manager to her employee. Surprised, the employee responded, “Well, I don’t know if this would work or not but I think…”
Those four words posed in the question, “What do you think?” may be more telling of one’s management style than any other sign.
Why? Here are four possible reasons, you may want to add one in a comment yourself:
- It’s a sign of whether you genuinely care to hear the opinions of others, or just want to appear like you do.
- It’s a sign of whether you lead by “getting others to want to do” OR “getting others to do” what you believe should be done.
People make improvements for their own reasons and that includes making efforts to increase job performance. You can certainly influence this transformation and have astounding results, if you understand the intrinsic (natural, innate) motivations you need to meet.
One well-researched study (Deci & Ryan, 1985; 2000) maintained that people have three innate needs: the need for competence (ability to attain desired results), the need for autonomy (work independence) as well as the need for
The reader comment by RStone below, referencing a quote-gem by Mother Theresa (see post 10 Inspiring Quotes On Leadership | Manage My Employees) provides an apt reminder that our ‘words etch in the minds’ of our employees.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
- Mother Theresa
I’ve led a number of seminars on “Giving Praise” and I’m struck by how many managers, can recall years later, the words spoken to them by a former supervisor, military commander or other authority figure. Those words, as Mother Theresa put it, still ‘echoed’ in their minds and more often than not, merely recalling those words stimulated
Saying ‘Thanks’ and/or giving praise doesn’t come as naturally to some managers as it does for others. I started out thirty years ago in my career being one of those managers who found giving ‘praise’ harder than giving correction.
I’m better at it today, and yet, I’m certainly not perfect. The results of improvement have been remarkable—especially in how it helped me create a more positive tone and relationship with others at work, or in my personal life.
It helps to have a few reminders of how easy praise (saying ‘Good Job’ or ‘Thanks’) can be when we pause to look for it, then share it with our associates.
- Thank you for backing my leadership on this project, I really appreciate it.
- You project enthusiasm to our customers for their business… and I really appreciate that.
- You have a lot of qualities we admire around here, like…
- You did a great job on that project, you got it complete under an intense deadline!
- Let me compliment you on how well you calmed that customers down, you did it with professionalism and a whole lot of tact.
- You do a great job on follow-up, I never hear a complaint from anyone in the company about the communications coming from your area.
3 Tips on Revving Up Praise:
- Be sincere. When you see something praiseworthy – praise it. On the other hand, if you don’t, then avoid feeling like you need to come up with something that won’t be in earnest.
- Don’t wait until something’s perfect before you acknowledge it with appreciation or praise.
- Be timely. If you wait to say it later…you may forget. When you see it, say it.
10 Ways to Say “Good Job”…
- You’re catching on fast, I like the effort you’re putting in.
- Super job on that report, it was exactly what I was looking for.
- Thank you! Your input was really helpful for me to hear… I like other viewpoints to consider.
- Actually, it doesn’t bother me when you challenge the status quo around here, because you do it without being confrontational. I know your purpose is to help us grow, get better.