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It’s Easy, Just Watch

November 27, 2009

Most things in life are pretty easy to do after you know how to do them. Management is just the opposite. Most everyone knows how to manage (just ask them), but it’s done well all too infrequently (just look around).

I guess part of the answer for the discipline of management being well understood but frequently misapplied lies in the fact that people are involved. Over the course of giving a number of lectures and participating in a variety of training sessions, I frequently hear about some troublesome, but extremely avoidable problems.

No one that I know likes to be criticized or reprimanded in public, but there are managers that do it all the time. Not just neophyte untrained managers, but experienced veterans that should certainly know better.

Those that criticize their employees in front of other most frequently get the opposite reaction than that which they had hoped for. The behavior is rationalized for one of two reasons. First, the manager believes that he or she has tried other means with no success and they feel that criticism in front of others will surely get the employees attention. It gets the attention all right, but generally with a polarizing effect on previous positions. When the boss criticizes you in public your tendency is to justify, rather than change your behavior.

Secondly, a manager sometimes feels that public criticism of an employee is a valid method of sending a message to all the other employees. It definitely sends a message, but the message is that the boss is unkind and overbearing. The intended message can be transmitted in far more effective and human manner.

What’s your reaction when somebody singles you out for criticism in front of others? What do you think of a manager that you observe reprimanding one of his or her employees in public? The answer is simple, but nonetheless it is a continuing problem for many managers at all levels. Just in case the temptation gets great sometime, remember these letters. PC CP. They stand for public criticism is counter productive.

Another frequent complaint concerns managers that delay or postpone taking remedial action with poor performing employees. When an employee is not getting their job done, not only are they aware of it , but so are most all of the other employees around them. When a manager delays in confronting these difficult situations, they are sending a signal to the rest of their employees that poor performance will be tolerated.

Situations like these bother everyone involved, but they particularly frustrate the good employees. It is the good employees that suffer in silence. Remember, that when you delay in taking action in these difficult but obvious situations, a heavy price is paid. Did you ever enjoy working next to a laggard who was paid as much as you? What was your opinion of the manager who tolerated that situation? As a manager don’t delay in facing these tough situations.

In all the years that I have listened to the problems of employees and managers, I can’t ever remember anyone commenting that their boss listened too much. Let your employees talk to you and learn to listen. This one sounds a lot easier than it actually is. The secret to productive open communication is a long term commitment to good listening. The results aren’t immediately noticeable but the long term dividends are rewarding.

About the only thing worse than having a bad boss is having two or more bosses. Even if the multiple bosses are good ones, this is an accident waiting to happen. Don’t put any employee in the position of having to serve two masters. A good employee can provide services to many masters, but they can only have one boss.

Have you ever worked at a company that was acquired by another company? Have you ever been working at a job for a number of years and a new manager comes along and says that there are going to be a few changes made? How did You feel? Threatened is the word. Change is threatening.

If you are a good business person you are going to need to make changes to improve your organization. If you want to make those changes effectively, you better take into consideration that those changes, despite all the expected benefits, can be threatening to those around you. By recognizing the concerns of others, you will expedite the implementation and acceptance of your new program.

Positive re-enforcement is a powerful tool. Good people rarely get all the recognition and credit they deserve. That being the case, don’t be afraid to err on the side of excessive praise, credit and recognition for your employees. Your employees are looking for the feedback. Your acknowledgment of their performance will inspire their continued efforts.

Good management practices are easy to learn, they are just difficult to implement sometimes. Because it’s your business, make the effort to do it right and you will reap the rewards.

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