Work | Universal Truths #2

So back here I did the first of my universal truths series. Here today to share two more of my observations from 20+years of managing and leading people. If you didn’t see #1 then here’s a quick recap and my disclaimer.

I want to share with you the ying and the yang of management and leaadership, one from the warm, fuzzy side and one from the hard arse, dark side. It’s kinda like Star Wars and the force. We need both to keep the work universe in order and ticking along productively.

Disclaimer: Yes, these observations are gross generalisations and won’t apply to everyone or every situation. But hey, in my experience these apply to most, and while they are my universal truths, they don’t have to be yours.

Two types of truth

Truth One: The warm, fuzzy, empathetic, uplifting, inclusive and engaging side of management and leadership. This is the one everyone likes to talk about when we talk of leadership and managing people. It is the inspiring side of leadership.

Truth Two: The dark, tough, toe the line, I’m the boss, you are not, don’t try me side of the management and leadership. We forget that there is a very real counterbalance required, if in fact, you are going to really lead and make a difference. It’s not all beer and skittles, coffee dates and sharing birthday cake. No, to be an effective leader means that some of the time, some of the people will not like you. At all. Not even for birthday cake.

In sharing my universal truths I hope you find something that makes you think, smile or question. Let me know in the comments what your universal truths are as I’d be keen to explore this subject more. Cheers Le

Universal Truth #2a

Invest in your humans by giving nine positive pieces of feedback, before you give that one critical piece.

Short story: Employees are a long term investments. We have to deposit positive, uplifting feedback 99% of the time, so we have a good investment in the human bank. Then, when it comes time to give that one piece of negative feedback, we can make the withdrawal and still have credit available in the human bank.

Long story: Too often I see managers really only talking to their team members when it’s bad news. Busy managers are busy and sometimes this can short change the investment in the team. Then the busy manager dumps a piece of constructive criticism on the team or an individual. No matter how well delivered, if we have not taken the time to accentuate the positive so we have a relationship formed and have ‘credit’ in the human bank, then we won’t have anything to make the withdrawal from. The negative feedback is exceptionally hard to hear because the employee has no ‘buffer’ from receiving positive feedback. Don’t be the one who just slams them with a bit of difficult to hear feedback. Be the one who makes the investment. Make the investment nine times, before you want to make a withdrawal.

Create an ongoing, overwhelming sense of what has been done right over an extended period of time, before you go in with the news on what has gone wrong. This takes days, weeks and months of consistently highlighting what is right, good and positive about efforts made. Then, when the bad bit does come along, as it always will, you will have an attentive audience who will listen, seek to understand and improve. Creating the environment where constructive criticism is heard and not dismissed ‘as another rant from the never able to be pleased boss’ is a very significant piece of the structure that supports a positive organisational culture.

The Dark Side #2b

Not all performance issues can be solved with Viagra.

Short story: If you manage people, you will need to manage performance issues. Get use to it by doing it. Do not overthink it. Do not ignore the issues. Ignoring performance issues is like ignoring head lice, they will multiple, cause a nasty itch and will probably infect others.

Long story: Not many people like to manage performance issues in individuals. But when you take the pay, you take the whole job. So it has to be done. Whatever you do, don’t wait for the annual performance review. What a load of BS. Annual, like once a year … you don’t wait that long to have a baby, so don’t wait that long to deal with a performance issue. If you wait that long, I expect good people will have left because the performance issue is probably annoying them too. What was a little issue will now be ingrained behaviour and bigger than it was before, if only you had acted sooner.

For me, who loves a weekly or at least fortnightly catch up with each individual team member, the performance management is done within two weeks of me seeing or hearing about this unwanted or unhelpful behaviour. Why would I want to wait for it to get worse, or be repeated. I have a much better chance of working with you to solve the issue if we catch it early, before much greater damage is done. I have a series of questions I ask at weekly one on ones that can highlight emerging issues before they even become a performance issue. Let me know in the comments if you would like them.

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