“God, my team,” Jennifer told me. “I have to chew ‘em up and spit ‘em out before they do what I tell them.” She leaned across the table. “I really lit into Jack yesterday...and it worked! He's been towing the line ever since.” Jennifer sat back, triumphant.
With a hard-set face, crossed arms and boot-clad feet firm against the floor, she’s as tough as I expected. This is our first session, and thanks to conversations with her supervisor, I have a pretty good perspective on Jennifer’s “communication style” and bulldozing ways: screaming, swearing, badgering, bullying...you name it, Jennifer does it. And with pride.
Or so it seems.
We’re in a busy urban coffee shop, hunkered down at a corner table where we meet for coaching. My client – let’s call her Megan — has a fat notebook on which she scribbles notes with a ballpoint pen. Black hair falls forward, grazing her cheek. We’re wrapping up our session by defining action steps she’ll take in the coming weeks.
“There aren’t enough ‘carrots and sticks’ to get my team to be more productive,” a manager told me. She said she was frustrated over her company’s paltry incentives, bonuses and rewards programs.
Before I began working with organizations 16 years ago, I spent 12 years working with families, helping them develop healthier "home cultures." When I began to transition into the work of organizational development, I noticed something really interesting: families and organizations tend to function in the same way.
A couple months ago I was visiting a client and borrowing an office. I had a lot of work to do so I shut the door and hunkered down to get things done. After only a few minutes, a member of the work group I was visiting opened my door, walked in and informed me that “Closed doors are not allowed here.”
Tact does not always make its way into corporate e-mail, and what may seem like an innocent announcement from your perspective could be a morale-crushing message to the people on the other end.
It's okay to provide feedback regarding a person's behavior, but not their character. So how do you tell the difference?
Shaking up the daily routine can go a long way in creating a positive work environment and help employees remain vested and engaged.
In a recent study of 1,500 employees from across the work spectrum, when asked about the factors that kept them motivated, 87% of the participants included the words "recognition" and "reward." To add to this, what has been shown to be most effective in motivating employees aren't rewards or compensations made by the company at-large, but rather those initiated directly by the manager or supervisor.
Catherine Meek, President of Meek & Associates, says: "In the 20 years I have been doing this and the thousands of employees I have interviewed, if I had to pick one thing that comes to me loud and clear it would be that organizations do a lousy job of recognizing people's contributions. That is the number one thing employees say to us: 'We don't even care about the money. If my boss would just say thank you.'"
I know that this can feel like a weighty responsibility. "I'm already responsible for all these other things – now I have to be in charge of morale, too?!" The short answer is: yes.
So in my last post I talked about the different types of skills we have, and that job-specific skills aren't usually what cause problems within the workplace but rather what are called adaptive skills, or the emotional and social competencies we acquired in childhood and adolescence and, for the most part, are the things we bring with us into adulthood. These include things such as:
We all have skills.
Maybe you can solve complex mathematical equations.
Maybe you can fix a leaky drain pipe.
Maybe you can cut quite the rug on the dance floor.
Maybe some of these skills have even gotten you hired at some point or another. But while these skills may be vital to your job (or your job's annual Christmas party), people generally aren't fired because of deficiencies in these highly specific skills. When things go wrong on the job, it's generally because of problems in a person's adaptive skill set.
Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle? Originally coined by Laurence J. Peter in his humorous 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, the theory is this:
People will tend to be promoted until they reach their position of incompetence.
One-on-one meetings can be an incredibly effective way to help build rapport with your employees, as well as increase your effectiveness in managing them. Regularly scheduled (let me say it again: regularly scheduled) one-on-one meetings are an important way to:
It's probably safe to say we've either worked with or for a micro-manager in our careers. If not, maybe it's possible we actually are the micro-manager. This style of management can cause confusion and frustration at the work place and within the work group. But there is a different style of management that can better guide and encourage people to successfully and efficiently perform their jobs: MACRO-managing. So this week I am sharing with you a few tips--the 10 Commandments--of macro management.
Create this simple 15 item survey (plus two "essay questions" at the end), distribute it to your employees, and find out where you're strong and where you might need some attention in terms of these research-based "big bang for the buck" management skills. Hint: Ask a peer or someone else in your organization to receive and score the completed surveys, so that your employees don't have to worry about confidentiality.
NOTE: You'll get an awful lot of "management points" when you:
1) show your employees that you value and seek their opinion on how you're doing, and
2) receive that information graciously and non-defensibly, and
3) make efforts to improve based on that information.
One of the best ways to raise and maintain morale in an organization is to find that "sweet spot" between managers/leaders being willing and able to make decisions and employes having a voice, being heard, and having influence. When an organization is off balance, either toward a dictatorship tendency among leaders or through an over emphasis on consensus and employee entitlement, bad things happen, including low morale, resentment, lack of buy-in, poor decisions, resistance to change, an entitlement attitude among employees, wasted time, apathy and more.
One of the best ways to keep things balanced is for leaders and teams to learn how to use the six decision-making styles. Be sure to check out the principles below! The teams I've seen use this most effectively have learned the model together - both leaders and their employees - and practiced it regularly by making clear which decision-making style is being used at the time. Two organizations I work with have even permanently printed the chart below right on the back of their weekly meeting agendas!