My writers group was having problems with our leader. We didn't know how to fire him, so we took the passive aggressive route. We told him we were disbanding and then met another day without him.
At the time I thought, we're on to something. Wouldn't it be great at work, if you had this terrible manager, and before she totally destroyed morale and productivity, or worse, caused fabulous employees to run to other jobs, we could just quit and regroup?
Now that I'm a manager, I think a little differently. I would hope there is better communication. That they would tell me when they were having problems before they jumped ship. But you never know.
For those of us that could use a quick refresher course on managing, or just want to assess our style, here are six potential issues:
- When someone drops the ball. Do you attack or do you use it as an opportunity to teach?
- When there's a disagreement, do you take sides or do you mediate and facilitate?
- When things fall apart, do you find someone to blame or do you solve the problem?
- When you hear a new idea (maybe one even better than yours) do you close the door or open it?
- When someone confronts you, do you get into it and fight back or do you negotiate?
- When bad news hits do you try to avoid it or confront it head on?
As you can tell from these six items, one of the biggest problems that managers run into is operating from the gut and not from the head. For example, when someone screws up, it's easier to respond from the gut, "This is a catastrophe. Do you know what this could do to the company? Never do this again." It's harder work to stop, stay cool and respond from the head. "This is serious. How'd this happen? How are we going to make sure this doesn't happen in the future?"
For those of you who are thinking, "This is all easy to say, but a lot harder to put into action," you're in luck. Our Lead Now training program prepares both, new and seasoned manager through a library of short, powerful videos and accompanying materials that provide instruction and insights on great leadership.
In the end good management is more about managing ourselves than others.
Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.