If you don’t watch out, you’ll end up
pushover for unacceptable behaviour and non-performance. “Grumpy, bossy, arrogant, hard taskmaster;” they’re labels that few managers want to share or wear. But like it or not, they’re the labels that everyone puts on the boss. They’re the stereotypical labels of being boss.
In today’s climate of liberal managers, of political correctness and of communication, it’s tempting for managers to want to be liked and loved by the people they supervise. To be buddies, or mates, and to overlook it when job’s not up to scratch. But you do this at your peril, according to Steven Brown, founder of the Fortune Group, who believes there’s definite line between being the hard taskmaster and the good buddy.
Managers who condone job done inadequately fall into trap for several reasons, he reckons:
? They hope the problem will disappear if it’s ignored;
? They lack the willingness or ability to confront others; and
? They feel the need to be loved and seek it in the office as well as outside.
The need to be loved
“No one’s so staunchly independent that they don’t want to have others like them,” says Brown. “We all want to feel loved but the key is to settle for respect in the workplace. Think for moment about all the people you’ve worked for in your career, and pick the one who seemed the most effective. Rate that person on one-to-10 scale, with one being easy and 10 being firm. Most people give their best managers about 7.9 rating. They were both fair and firm. From the combination of fair and firmness came the respect.
If you let your need to be loved by your workers override your responsibilities you’ll end up pushover for unacceptable behaviour and excuses for non-performance. People do this, says Brown, because they don’t want to be branded as hard taskmasters. “Believe me, people in the workforce can spot love-starved patsy of manager and land position under that person’s supervision in an amazingly short time.”
Management isn’t popularity contest. You can look for love outside the office; but look for respect inside the office – that’s got to remain the goal of the successful manager.
Most managers ignore incompetence because they don’t want confrontation. “We’ve all experienced confrontation – confrontation with our parents, with teachers, with ineffective managers, or others who confronted us. These confrontations were counterproductive because those in authority didn’t handle them properly,” says Brown. “Confronting incompetence requires skill and timeliness.”
Don’t confront in anger
One of the lessons is never confront in anger. When we’re riled we all have tendency to attack rather than keep to job-related behaviour, says Brown, citing an example of how we can be quick to rise:
“Sarah Raines expected her sales rep, Bob, to call at the office each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Bob misses Wednesday call, and Sarah doesn’t mention the incident when they talk on Friday. Then two weeks later, he misses Monday call. The next week he misses both Monday and Wednesday. When he calls on Friday, Sarah says ?Have you been on holiday or what? Exactly where were you?’
“This opening is clue that Sarah’s losing it.” According to Brown, good confrontation is acting quickly before the problem grows. “The first time you spot deviation that could grow into serious issue, don’t take time to jot it down on your ?to do’ list. Confront it.”
Correct, don’t punish
If you don’t want to antagonise your team (which wouldn’t serve any purpose) don’t make confrontation the means of punishment. The aim is to correct not punish, says Brown.
He gives the following rules for confrontation:
? Confront privately: Never reprimand in public. This only makes the whole team feel under attack, and those who weren’t involved will rally around the individual. All this does is make you everyone’s enemy. As well as making sure it’s private, make sure no one even knows it’s taken place. Don’t always conduct them in your office, and don’t get in the habit of closing your door only when reprimanding. That’ll soon be signal that someone’s on the carpet. So think about where and when any confrontation occurs.
? Be specific: Pinpoint the unwanted behaviour. Rather than ?you’re wasting time’, point out that ?your report was day late’. We can all relate to specifics, but it’s difficult to deal with broad accusations. Ambiguous indictments dealing with attitude, personality and intelligence will only cause resentment.
? Use facts: Support your statements with facts. These should be available if you’ve been measuring performance along quantity, quality, timeliness and cost. Give this information regularly to your team, so they know where they stand. When you share facts it’s easier to focus on performance as opposed to personality.
? Be clear: When reprimanding someone, make sure they know it’s reprimand. Share your concerns and frustrations and say why this behaviour creates these emotions.
? Give some redirection: If you mention the undesired behaviour and don’t point to the action you want, you’ve missed the point of the reprimand. Mention the behaviour you seek, and make sure the person thoroughly understands what you want. Get commitment that includes not only what they’ll do, but the time frame for the correction to appear.
? Follow up: Make an end to the confrontation and don’t bring it up again, except by reinforcing the desired behaviour. When you catch them doing something right, tell them.
Confrontation is skill says Brown, and like developing all skills, it happens first when you understand the process, and then begin to practise it.