My challenge as a business owner was being very focused on results. So much so that I sometimes dismissed the productivity of those I worked with.
I only saw what was wrong, was not generous enough with praise, and expected that the next problem would be showing up sooner rather than later. What a poor mindset to bring to working with others!
I had to work hard over a long period of time to become somewhat better at being more focused on the people I worked with. That was my challenge. It's one that a number of business owners and managers have.
What about the reverse? How does a person who is focused mostly on the people they manage get the results the business needs to achieve? How does someone with that inclination succeed? Here are some suggestions.
Engage Those You Manage
If you're a people person, it can be hard to hold people accountable. What would make it easier to do what you know needs to be done after something goes off track?
Get the people you manage on the same page. Why are we here? What does success look like? What are the metrics we are using to measure success? What, if anything, might get in the way of us being successful?
These are things that are probably floating around in your head. By talking about this with your people, on a somewhat regular basis, you and your team get more focused results than you would get otherwise.
And you have a point of reference to use when you need to have one of those difficult conversations with an employee who is not helping the team achieve the defined results.
As a people person, you likely assume the best will happen when you're working with others. Because they are good and smart, there is no need to get super-clear about they are supposed to achieve.
And then your heart gets broken, yet again. How do you avoid this? Delegate well.
What does delegating well look like?
· When laying out a task:
- You write down what you are telling the employee.
- The employee writes down what you are telling them.
- Then the employee tells you what they heard you say (what was agreed to), referencing their notes while doing so.
- Agree on: Check-in time(s) and/or progress point(s) and the deadline for completion
· Praise publicly what went well· Discuss privately what could have gone better
If the employee does not write down what you are agreeing to, you will end up having one of those dreaded "Why did this happen?" conversations after the task was "done." You hate those, right? So slow down and get on the same page.
The agreed-upon check-in times and/or progress points are a safety net. Just agreeing upon a deadline for completion will not ensure success. Your people need you checking in, albeit in a planned way.
When praising a person, be very clear about what they did right, and how you feel about that and them. By doing so, you will teach that person and the entire team about how you define success.
Plus, you like to tell people good things, right?
Address What Went Array, Not Just What Went Well
Expecting that everything will go right or that things will work themselves out in some magical way is not being realistic. When something does go wrong, address it sooner rather than later.
Everybody in the company knows that the conversation needs to happen. Bad news stinks more and more the longer it is not dealt with.
Instead of saying (not that you ever would) "Why did you..." try saying "What can we do so this doesn't happen again?"
"Why did you..." is accusatory and reactive. The person you are managing feels attacked and may shut down.
"What can we do so..." is inclusive and proactive. You and your employee together acknowledge things did not go well and that you want them to go better moving forward. After all, mistakes are how we learn, right?
I do think that all of us, whether or not we are people-oriented or results-oriented, have challenges when managing others. What I'm suggesting here are some tactics you might try to help you feel better when you are working with your team.
These suggestions are applicable in all areas of your life. If you are involved in a service club or any volunteer group, try these techniques. Even with your family, they can be helpful.
And notice when you do something as a manager or a leader that took you out of your comfort zone. Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve to acknowledge your own progress.