If you think it’s tough being a manager these days, try being an employee. Most are in the position of having to go with the flow because of the current economic conditions. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they do so with a smile on their face. Here are 10 things your employees wish you knew about them:
- "We are happy to have a job." But that doesn’t necessarily mean we are happy in the job. Big difference. People who are happy in their jobs act a lot different than those grateful to have a job. They are highly engaged and will do whatever it takes to delight the customer. The other group simply floats along praying for the day they can tell you really what they are thinking. Most likely they will do this as they hand in their notice. That is if they even give notice.
- "You’re not the boss of me." My five year old used to say this to me all the time. That is until I corrected her by telling her that actually I was the boss of her and that what I said goes. You may be the boss, but you don’t own your people. The minute you start playing the, “Because I said so” card, you’ve lost the game.
- "Your girls don’t like being called girls." I remember how shocked I was when my first client started speaking to me about the girls in the office, as he pointed to a sea of silver haired women. That should have been a sign that the problem was right in front of me. It is disrespectful to call females over the age of 18 girls. They are women. Keep this in mind when referring to female employees or you’ll soon find yourself managing a team consisting of yourself. Then you’ll be free to reference yourself in the manner that best suits you.
- "We are no longer going to take one for the team." That is after the senior team has just awarded the departing CEO an exit package that certainly could have been used to restore salary cuts.
- "We are tired of picking up the slack from the non-performers." We know who is not pulling their weight and so do you. Do something about it before we throw ourselves on top of the dead weight pile.
- "That was our idea you just shared with the CEO." We understand that tough times call for tough measures, but that doesn’t give you the right to take credit for something that is not yours. Now go back in there and give us the credit we are due.
- "Measure us on results, not face time." Stop penalizing us for our ability to get work done quickly or we will give you what you want. More face time, and that’s about it.
- "Stop wasting our time with surveys." You already know what’s wrong. Now start fixing things before we find a work place that is willing to take action.
- "Stop micromanaging us." Micromanagement is a sign of mistrust. You’ve hired us for a reason. If you don’t trust we’ll get the job done then by all means, either find people who you think will, or leave us alone to do our jobs.
- "We are never going to act like business owners." Stop complaining that we don’t act like business owners. We are not business owners nor are we compensated the same as the owner. And by the way, if we really wanted to act like owners we would have started our own businesses.
I’m sure there is a lot more your employees wish you knew about them. Perhaps if you ask them, they’ll be brave enough to add their comments to this list.
© 2011 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions (www.yourhrexperts.com) and author of the highly acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta’s monthly newsletter, HR Matters.
[Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/lwr.]
This is a post from Kevin Eikenberry, a two-time bestselling author, speaker, consultant, trainer, coach, leader, learner, husband and father (not necessarily in that order).
To lead someone or something means, literally, to be in front, so that others can see and follow in that direction. Stated another way, if you think you are leading, but no one is following, you are just taking a walk. In yet other words, leaders are leaders because of what they do, not because of a position they hold or the title printed on their business cards. This idea is central to the process of, and having success in, leading others.
This idea holds all of us as leaders accountable for our actions – and it means that “leading by example” is a phrase with too many words. Perhaps the only (and definitely the best) way to lead is “by example.”
So if we are going to lead by example, what are some of the most important examples we can set?
That is the question I want to begin to answer (and get you thinking about) with the rest of this article.
- Attitude. Your attitude matters more than everyone else’s. As a leader, they are looking to you, watching for clues and modeling your attitude. Remember that someone must inject the positive attitude, must smile first, and must make it OK to think about problems proactively. If you don’t do it, who else will? If you aren’t doing it, what are you waiting for?
- Learning. Every leader wants those they lead to be learning, developing and growing. It is hard to convince them to do so if they don’t see you doing it. If you want others to be learners, you must be one first. Besides, the role of leader is complex enough that there is always something you can learn; always something you can get better at.
- Expectations. The expectations you have for others will impact their performance, positively or negatively. Which way will it be? Are you going first by raising your expectation of others so they can build confidence, urgency and discipline to reach those expectations? It won’t happen automatically. Set your expectations of others, let people know you believe in them, then watch them grow!
- Change. If you want to affect and implement change you must be a champion of it. If you want the change to be successful, you must lead people towards it. This goes beyond corporate initiatives and major projects. Are you open to trying new things? Are you flexible in your approaches? If you want others to be, remember who they are watching ...
- Trust. If you want to build more trust in your organization – or with specific individuals, you must go first. Offer them trust. Be more trustworthy. Waiting for others to take the lead could be a long wait. Extend and offer trust first. Occasionally you will get hurt, more often greater trust will build.
- Questions. If you want the input of others, stop talking and start asking. Ask questions first. Ask questions often. Good questions promote learning, information clarity and exchange and engagement. If you want these things, stop talking and start asking.
- Listening. Certainly, once you ask a question you will be best served by listening to the response. Listening is such an important behavior because it not only allows for information to be successfully shared, but it communicates to the other person that you care about their thoughts, the facts and who they are. For these reasons and many more, listen more!
Setting an example means taking the risk, doing what is necessary, doing what no one else is doing. It means going first.
Where are you going?
Even if you don’t want to admit it, your team needs training for dealing with difficult people. Conflicts can arise among team members who don’t see eye to eye or who have differing communication styles. Angry customers can lash out at your people. Frustrated vendors can send accusatory emails. In all of those situations, your team would benefit from guidance and training for dealing with the difficult person.
Sure, there are some people who are naturally good at dealing with conflict, but most people aren’t. They resort to ineffective conflict management techniques, such as giving the silent treatment, allowing their anger to fester, yelling at the other person or talking behind his or her back. Not only are those responses ineffective for resolving conflicts, but they’re also likely to contribute to lowered morale and reduced productivity.
Detox Your Workplace! provides advice and tips for dealing with difficult people in various situations. The following excerpt explains how employees should respond if a conflict turns hostile.
A person confronts you, yelling and gesturing wildly. Your challenge: Hear the person out—without losing your temper. To resolve the problem and avoid a repeat, follow this advice:
- Do not interrupt. If you break into the tirade, you tell the speaker that you are not really listening. You create the impression that you have prejudged the situation and that you are not interested in the other person’s side.
- Stay calm. Train yourself to deal with aggressive people at work in a calm manner. Your goal should be to express yourself assertively, with no hint of aggravation. Don’t tell the other person to “Calm down.”
- Keep your imagination in check. Don’t escalate the situation in your mind. A person who is upset about a current situation does not necessarily plan to stay angry forever.
- Show your willingness. An angry person may feel that you just don’t understand the situation and why it matters. When you have a chance to speak, say “I want to understand.” Then paraphrase what you heard, using your own words, and ask the person if you perceive the situation accurately. Once you are satisfied that you understand fully, you can move toward resolution.
- Use the person’s name. When a conversation takes a hostile turn, call the aggressor by his or her first name. That will draw the person’s attention. Then express your preference for how the conversation should proceed. Example: “Alice, I will listen to you and work to fix the problem, but only if you lower your voice.”
—Adapted from Detox Your Workplace!, www.practicalbusinesstraining.com.
[Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/mccord.]
It’s that very special time of the year when many Americans are receiving invitations to their annual office holiday party. If you’re one of them, you’ll probably look forward to the event with great excitement—until you start to recall the blunders of years past. Like the time you ran out of things to say to your CEO and awkwardly asked if his divorce was finalized. Or the time a drunk co-worker got a little too close for comfort when you were both standing under the mistletoe. Or even worse things.
Yes, while office holiday parties can be hit or miss, many people find their past experiences fall more often in the “miss” category. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right approach, your office holiday party can provide a great opportunity to build relationships and strengthen your position at your company.
The first step to not being the lonely loser is not drinking too much. Second, don’t worry about being smart or clever—go prepared to ask thoughtful questions. Lots of them.
As I show in my book co-written with Jerold Panas, Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others,the most underutilized strategy for building relationships, getting to know others more deeply, and exercising influence is asking what I call power questions. Power questions, at the most basic level, enable you to get to know others more deeply and ensure that you’re talking about meaningful issues.
When you use power questions, you can really make your office holiday party—or any party you attend over the holiday season—count. If you want to connect more effectively with colleagues, deepen your existing relationships and stick to the straight-and-narrow to stay out of trouble at your upcoming office holiday party, read on for a few power questions to help you out:
Questions about work. Don’t spend your time gossiping about co-workers and what’s been happening at the office. Instead, ask thought-provoking questions about how your colleagues feel about and experience their work. A few options:
- What was your best day and worst day at work during this past year?
- What was the most fulfilling experience you had this year?
- What do you think is the best part of working here? The worst part?
- What’s the most challenging part of your job?
- How did you get your start? (This is an especially good question to ask your boss or a senior leader in your organization. It’s a simple but powerful way to draw someone out).
Questions about goals and challenges. If the foundation of relationships is trust, the engine that moves them forward is helping others reach their goals and confront their most challenging issues. You can do this, however, only if you understand what the other person’s needs are. So ask questions like:
- So what’s on your agenda in your work for next year? Any particular projects or initiatives you’re focused on?
- If you suddenly had a couple of extra hours per week outside of work, how would you spend them?
Questions about others’ passions. We have many activities going on in our lives, but usually we each harbor just a few true passions. If you can discover someone else’s passions, you’ll be able to connect much more effectively. Here’s how to do it:
- Tell me about your favorites. What’s your favorite movie of all time? Favorite restaurant? Favorite book you’ve read in the last couple of years? Favorite way to relax?
- Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never been able to get around to it? A sport, a hobby, an event, a challenge, a trip, whatever?
- As you think about next year, what are you most excited about—at work or at home?
- What’s been the most gratifying experience you’ve had this year?
Questions to learn more about them as people. Ask people about themselves. The more you learn about them, the more you may find in common, and the more you’ll understand what makes them tick.
- So, when you’re not shaking things up at the office, how do you like to spend your time?
- When you were younger, how did your family spend the holidays? What are your plans this year?
- If you hadn’t gone into (business, law, banking, medicine, teaching, etc.), what do you think you might have done?
- Where did you grow up? What was that like?
What not to say
Of course, there are also questions you shouldn’t ask and things you shouldn’t say. And it can never hurt to go over what not to say before heading out for your party. Here’s a sampler of the most important categories:
- Appearance comments. Unless you know the other person very well, do not make remarks or give compliments to members of the opposite sex about their appearance or dress. It’s not appropriate and it could be either misleading or at some level offensive. Compliment them instead on their abilities and accomplishments. Period.
- Intimate details. Don’t ask someone who isn’t a pretty close friend about intimate personal details. A general question like “Do you have a family?” is OK, but not questions about girlfriends or boyfriends, divorce, dating, romance, sex and so on. You get the idea. Everyone has slightly different tolerances and comfort around going into subjects like this, and you need to err on the side of caution.
- Tipsy revelations. Don’t have a few drinks and then confront someone abruptly with your pent-up emotions. For example, don’t say “You know, I just feel like you don’t like me very much!” or “I want to be your friend.” At best it might be cute, but most likely it’ll be embarrassing for both of you.
- “Light of day” mistakes. Always apply the “light of day” test to your behavior. If someone reported your conversation and behavior the next day to your boss, your family or a client, would you be embarrassed in any way? How would they feel about pictures or videos of those moments if they were posted on Facebook?
For many people, the holiday office party can bring with it more anxiety and dread than good cheer. And there is really just no need for that. When you arrive with a few power questions ready to go, you can make the event not only enjoyable but you can turn it into a valuable relationship-building night that could benefit you for a long time to come.
Andrew Sobel is the most widely published author in the world on client loyalty and the capabilities required to build trusted business relationships. His first book, the bestselling Clients for Life, defined an entire genre of business literature about client loyalty. In addition to Power Questions, his other books include Making Rainand the award-winning All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships.
For 30 years, he has worked as both a consultant to senior management and as an executive educator and coach. His clients have included leading companies such as Citigroup, Xerox, Bank of America, Hess, Cognizant, Ernst & Young, Booz Allen Hamilton, Towers Watson and many others. His articles and work have been featured in a variety of publications such as the The New York Times, Business Week, and Harvard Business Review. Sobel is a graduate of Middlebury College and earned his MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School. He can be reached at http://andrewsobel.com.
This is a guest post by Amy Beth Miller, business writer and editor.
When I was a new manager, I couldn’t stop thinking about work, even when I went to bed. I couldn’t fall asleep while I was worrying about how my team would handle work the next day, how I would deal with a poor performer or what I could do to retain my top staff members. I had virtually no training in how to be a manager, and certainly no stress management training.
Of course, the lack of sleep at night made it more difficult to concentrate during the work day. Then the stress began to take a toll on my health. When I finally went to the doctor, he wrote a prescription that said “Get more sleep.” A better prescription might have been “Go to stress management training.”
Without an expert to guide me, it took quite a while for me to develop the effective habits that make me resilient in the face of stress, able to minimize stress and respond well when I can’t avoid it. It took even longer to develop work/life balance.
If you’re feeling stretched too thin, you can’t give your team members the attention and guidance that they need to do their best. When you develop the skills to manage stress and balance your life, you become a role model to your employees and create a work culture where they can work hard, thrive and still enjoy life.
What do you do to manage your stress?