Are You Above or Below the Line?

How do you determine whether a behavior is productive or unproductive? Do you solely consider outcomes or is there more to it? It can be tricky since everyone can interpret this differently. But I came across one of the best ways to learn to assess our behaviors as being productive or unproductive, one I think could be used by anyone in any situation in work or in life. In the book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, authors Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner Klemp introduce what they call above-the-line and below-the-line leadership.

Powerful.

When you are open, curious and willing to learn, you create the ability to discuss ideas, brainstorm, consider and expand your opportunities. You increase discussion, dialog and conversation.

  • In the workplace, you engage your employees and help them to feel heard, valued and accountable.
  • At home (above-the-line parenting), you encourage your kids to self-discover, learn and grow.

You create the space for exploration with the intention of considering or finding the best outcomes. You allow both employees and kids to learn how to navigate, think and invent.

When you are closed, defensive and needing to be right, you shut down conversation, limit ideas and shortchange opportunities. You limit your responses to what you know and make the process of solution to be more about personalities and ego than finding optimal solutions. The need to be right overrides the ability to learn in every situation.

Think of what it feels like to work for a below-the-line manager. What level of engagement, performance and loyalty does this inspire in employees? Remember the adage, “people quit people before they quit companies.” Leaders who are below-the-line often chase talent out of the organization, frequently unintentionally; they are unaware of the time they spend below the line. Who wants to work for someone who is closed, defensive and always needing to be right? Is this you?

Think of what it feels like to live with a below-the-line parent. My way or the highway. Discussions are limited. Opportunities to grow into one’s greatest self are restricted. Kids don’t learn who they are but are instead expected to be who their parents say they are. What kind of relationship can you have with a parent who is closed, defensive and needing to be right instead of open, curious and willing to learn?

Which are you?

Take Action
What percentage of the time are you above-the-line? Below-the-line? What situations raise you above or take you below?

Now that you know this, how will you focus on being more open, curious and willing to learn instead of being closed, defensive and needing to be right? And, what could your work and life look like when you make the change?

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Be Clear if you Want Employees to Perform

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This article originally appeared on the Vistage Entrepreneur and Small Business Network on September 18, 2019: https://my.vistage.com/networks/entrepreneurs_and_small_business/blog/2019/09/18/are-you-above-or-below-the-line.

Are you Ready to Act Like a Manager?

Being human means that sometimes our emotions get the best of us. Consider whether you would react or respond to the following situations.

  • Your best employee just gave her notice.
  • An employee has been late to work twice this week.
  • Your department is over budget in its spending for the month.
  • An important email was sent to a customer with typos and inaccurate information.
  • Two employees argue in front of the customer.
  • The office gossips about an employee who is having a personal problem.

You can vent. You can rant. You can react. But if you do, what is likely to happen is that you may not solve the situation but rather aggravate your team or customers in the process.

Instead, you could respond with intention. When responding, you allow yourself to see the situation from external and internal perspectives.

External. Stop and notice what is creating the situation. What information do you need to fully understand the situation to be able to handle it effectively? What are the circumstances, personalities and details affecting the situation? What is working and not working in this moment that is creating this?

Internal. Stop and notice you. What is your emotional state? What of your strengths will help you here? What triggers have been activated that you will need to manage? What situations or events of the past are you bringing forward?

The guidance I share with the executives I coach – and that has direct application for all managers – is to pause for a moment in any of these situations to get informed about the internal and the external. Once you fully understand the situation, the reason for it and what is going on with you, ask yourself this question: “Who do I need to be in this moment to create the outcome I want?”

It is in this moment that you can see your habit to vent, rant and overreact, or to wisely and calmly review and manage yourself, will affect the outcome and results you want. To be an effective manager requires that you act with intention, to respond instead of react.

Effective managers and leaders are present to both their situations and themselves. By stopping and noticing both the external and internal, they can more wisely and more intentionally respond instead of react. Relationships improve. Productivity and performance improve. Results improve.

Take Action
Stop and notice a challenging situation happening in your workplace. Take the time to gather the information you need – the external and the internal –  to be ready and able to solve it. With the information about the situation and your own review of yourself, ask yourself Who do I need to be in this moment to create the outcome I want? With the information you have, choose with intention what you do next.

This doesn’t mean you won’t raise your voice or get angry in a challenging situation. It just means that you choose that response after consideration of the situation, rather than default to an old habit. And when you take the time to consider what to do, you will likely find that the raised voice or anger, though a possible solution, may likely be an infrequent option in favor of a calm, sane and methodical response.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading A Tantrum is a Tantrum

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Managers: How to Identify and Correct your Blind Spots

You are a great manager, at least most of the time. But like every other human, some of your behaviors are actually unproductive. This holds significant unintended consequences for a manager. For example, being unaware of an unproductive behavior can lead to disengaged employees, lost opportunities or missed results.

These unproductive behaviors are your blind spots.

So, how do you see what gets in your way (your blind spots) and, more importantly, how do you correct them?

We are creatures of habit, and we are all pretty mindless. This is not a criticism or judgment; it is an observation. We do so much in our day out of habit that we are not mindful and intentional in some of our choices and actions. And the more mindless we are, the more our unproductive behaviors (blind spots) show up in our days, negatively affecting our results.

A blind spot for a manager could be any of the following:

  • Always telling employees what to do instead of asking, guiding and supporting.
  • Watching for what’s not working with employees instead of what is working.
  • Being cheap with praise for work well done.
  • Being overly compassionate where others don’t see you as a leader, or overly dogmatic where others don’t want to work with you.
  • Holding others to behaviors that you don’t maintain for yourself.
  • Communicating in one method with everyone, regardless of its ineffectiveness.
  • Fear of confrontation or conflict.
  • Arrogance and disconnection from others.

Since blind spots are unproductive behaviors that you cannot see, the first step to improving your performance is to identify your blind spots so you can work on them. To do this requires intentional and focused work on yourself to increase your self-awareness.

Here are two things you can do now to identify your blind spots.

  • Self-evaluation. Make time without any interruptions. Focus on how you manage others and your work. To summarize what you notice, draw a line down the middle of a page. The left column is for you to summarize what works in the way you manage. The right column is for you to summarize what doesn’t work in the way you manage. The list of what’s not working will help you see your blind spots.
  • Ask others. Using the same what works and what doesn’t work format, ask several of your peers, direct reports or others to honestly share their perspectives. With their results, simply ask what the results share about your habits. Highlight any needing attention.

Being aware of your blind spots is good. It provides you with the information you need to improve on what’s not working in your management style. To make those improvements, consider how you can mindfully address and correct a blind spot. Consider these two ways to act on your intention to make improvements.

  • Rank your unproductive behaviors as most urgent / important to correct to the least urgent / important. With this awareness, consider ways to improve it. Work with a peer, your manager or with a coach to brainstorm ways to make improvements. From the list of ideas, select the best idea(s) and build and implement a plan to improve. Ensure your plan includes improvement metrics. You must be able to see and measure progress to eliminate the blind spot.
  • Engage an accountability partner. We all know we have things to work on to improve our performance, but we don’t do them. This is why some people go to a gym instead of working out at home, or walk with a friend instead of walking alone. We frequently need to be accountable to another to keep us on track. Identify a peer, colleague or coach who can help you stay on track by regular check-ins as well as monitoring progress.

We are all human. We each have habits that get in the way of what we want to achieve. This is particularly obvious when we manage others. Tune in to identify your blind spots. Build and implement a plan, and work with a partner to make improvements. For every blind spot you eliminate, you improve your impact and performance.

Take Action
Take 10 minutes today to ask yourself – honestly – what’s working and not working in the way you manage others. What do you need to see in your approach that you are not currently seeing? Then ask a colleague to give you honest and productive feedback. Uncover your blind spots so you can shine light on them to correct them.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 3 Reasons Why Your Best Employees Will Leave You in 2019 (and What to Do About it)

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3 Reasons Why Your Best Employees Will Leave you in 2019 (and What to Do About It)

Some of your best employees will leave you because you are not intentional about giving them a reason to stay.

Similar to the behaviors you follow to create a high-value relationship with customers to inspire their loyalty, you must also do the same for employees. This requires you to know what engages and retains your workforce, and to have a plan that routinely delivers it. Without this process in place, the organizations that make this effort will attract and poach your best employees.

Here are the three reasons why your best employees will leave you, and some thoughts on how to stop it from happening in 2019.

  1. You manage instead of coach your employees. Employees want a supportive, encouraging and guiding relationship with their managers. They want to feel valued, respected and included. Our industrial age trained managers to direct, tell and control – an outdated approach with today’s workers. To help employees choose to stay and perform at their best, help your managers learn how to think and act as coaches. The shift from managing to coaching is the single most important talent engagement initiative every organization should be focused on.
  2. You don’t make employee development a daily event. Employees know that in a fast-paced and constantly changing workplace, it is important to constantly develop the best skills. Organizations that provide continual (i.e. daily) performance feedback through coach-like relationships, as well as active on-the-job skill development, encourage their employees’ engagement and loyalty. Consider training managers to provide recurring performance feedback using the “what’s working, what’s not working” approach. On a daily basis, review an element of employee performance by assessing what worked and what didn’t work in the performance. Engage the employee to be more mindful in their performance, to consider ways to do more of what worked and to develop a plan to improve what didn’t work. This encourages adaptive learning and continual development, while also ensuring that all development is built both around technology and human connection.
  3. You don’t align the career path to the employee’s strengths and interests. Employees perform best in roles that need what they do and like best. So many organizations insist on moving employees through existing career paths that routinely take them from what was once a highly engaging role for an employee to one that can quickly become disengaging. This can be the result of a number of factors, but primarily it’s due to the fact that they lack the competence and abilities to excel in the role. Review your current career paths or advancement approach to ensure they, like when you hire, assess for employee alignment and fit, rather than just tenure with the organization. The goal in any career movement is to ensure the employee’s or candidate’s success. An assessment process must always exist to ensure alignment.

You must be intentional in creating a process to bring in the best talent, and once you have that talent, you must be intentional in developing a plan to keep it. Your organization, its culture and its focus on developing the relationship employees have with their managers all influence an employee’s interest in doing good work and choosing to come back each day.

Take Action
Stop and notice what works and doesn’t work in the way you engage, develop and retain your employees. Do more of what works and address what’s not working before your talent finds an organization that does all the right things to keep their best employees.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading High Disengagement Rates = Challenge and Opportunity

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The [Destructive] Power of Unmanaged Managers

Everyone knows how infectious certain behaviors are. When you’re around someone bubbly and happy, it doesn’t take you long to feel the same way. This also holds true for someone who is not happy. Whether they’re frustrated, disgruntled or genuinely mad, these negative emotions, especially when perpetually present, can be toxic to those around them, frequently smothering the positive emotions. And putting those negative emotions into the confined area of a workplace in the form of a disengaged employee can lead to a disastrous impact on the morale and productivity of a company.

I personally believe that a disengaged employee is one of the biggest signs that something went wrong. It could be that they were hired for the wrong job, been poorly managed, could be in a dysfunctional workplace culture or maybe an adverse event happened at work.

But frequently, I find the underlying reason for disengaged or disgruntled employees is unmanaged managers.

Unmanaged managers are not in control of their emotions; they let their aggravations and frustrations affect their mood, resulting in a toxic environment and poor relationships with employees.

Know anyone who fits this description? Unfortunately, I do.

I’ve seen first-hand the destructive power an unmanaged manager has on creating and fueling disengaged employees. Just a few things I’ve seen throughout in my career:

  • A parent was reprimanded for leaving work early to be home with their sick child.
  • A female employee was asked to prove her knowledge with industry stats before she could speak in a meeting with the all-male senior executive team.
  • A creative employee was consistently told no and belittled for presenting new ideas that challenged the status quo, just to discover the same ideas were presented from a younger employee, and those ideas were accepted and implemented with gusto.
  • An employee asked a question and was belittled and embarrassed by the manager in front of the team for “not knowing.”
  • Insulting comments were directed to an employee that had nothing to do with the employee but were instead the result of frustrations stemming from an earlier and unrelated event.

There’s little room for misinterpretation; these are real-world examples that led directly to the creation of disengaged employees.

The common thread in each of these situations is the unmanaged manager. When unable to manage his or her emotions, the unmanaged manager misses the opportunity to coach, teach and guide. Instead, they belittle, demean or ignore, all three of which can lead even the most passionate and dedicated employee to wonder what they’re doing there. In a workplace with a less than 4% unemployment rate (as of September 2018, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures National Employment Monthly Update), a manager must be the greatest advocate for employee engagement. And we know that employee engagement leads to greater employee productivity, performance and retention.

So how can you manage the unmanaged manager? It requires two things.

First, senior management must be aware of the behavior and the impact it has on employees. Frequently, the unmanaged manager exists because he or she has been allowed to behave this way by their superiors, behaviors that should have been coached out of them long before they were managers to a larger team. Awareness, coupled with coaching to improve the behaviors, is the best way to not lose your best employees.

Second, employees must be given the opportunity to voice their concerns, to feel like they are part of the organization. Regularly gathering employee perspective through surveys can help identify an unmanaged manager before too much damage is done.

If you continue to allow an unmanaged manager to run the show unchecked, you’ll soon find that your best employees will leave and spread the word that yours is not a workplace of choice. Remember the power of social media, particularly with disengagement.

Take Action
Consider your workplace. If you’re a disengaged employee, ask yourself why. Is the job the right fit for you? If it isn’t, what can you do to find a better fit? If it is, what could be making you feel disengaged or disconnected?

If you’re an unmanaged manager, bravo. The first step is to admit that your management style may need some adjusting. Consider hiring a Corporate Coach to learn the benefits of being a mindful manager and incorporate coaching techniques into your day-to-day management style. Making some little changes can make a world of difference to your employees, their performance and their loyalty.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading When is it Okay to do Just Enough at Work?

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Move Learning Off the Back Burner

By Jay Forte

What employees really want and need in the workplace is the ability to learn and grow. However, this doesn’t always have to look like formal education. In fact, some of the best learning is done in the moment, on the job and within the conversations between manager and employee.

There was a time when the role of the manager was to control and direct. Issue orders. Tell people what to do. Be responsible for results. That type of strong central manager made sense in a workplace of repetitive tasks, where the manager’s primary role was to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

But over time, manufacturing moved offshore and left us with a service economy, one that requires employees to be more interactive with customers. Managers today are still held accountable for efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to their employees’ output, but the process by which to generate those results is much different. Employees shouldn’t be micromanaged to such a degree that they feel stifled when directed. Instead, to connect wisely with customers, employees need to be guided, developed and coached.

This is why there is such great value in making learning and development a daily event.

Because your employees are the visible brand of your organization (to both customers and fellow employees), they need your constant conversation and development to be effective and adaptable in a constantly changing world. The demands of their jobs are always changing. The needs and wants of customers are always changing. The role of technology is constantly changing the experience. In all of these places, you – the manager – are the key to interacting with your employees to assess their abilities to determine what needs development or realignment. It is your role to assess through dialog, discussion and interaction what’s working and not working with your employees’ performance so you can help them develop a plan to improve.

This is a trend that won’t be going anywhere soon. Millennials (now 50% of today’s workforce) share that what they want and need in their jobs are the following:

  • alignment (connect them to jobs that need what they do and like best)
  • relationships (increase meaningful time with their managers in a supportive and value-based relationship) and
  • development (help them constantly learn, grow and expand their abilities).

Making learning a daily event helps to deliver all three of what employees say they want and need to be engaged and perform.

Think about the learning opportunities you offer to your employees and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What has to change in the way you engage with your employees to increase the frequency and focus on learning and development?
  2. What skills do you need to develop and what self-awareness do you need to have to be able to be a successful manager for your people?
  3. How will working with a coach help you become more successful with your employees – to help them become more engaged, more productive and more successful?

Take Action
Work with a coach to develop your greatest abilities, then transfer the lessons learned in your coaching to act more coach-like with your employees. This will help you make your daily conversations with your employees more focused on learning, growing and developing.

Move learning off the back burner and into your daily conversations.

 

Consider reading Leaders – Seek out, Accept and Act on Feedback

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2 Questions All Leaders Should Ask Themselves

By Jay Forte

One of the behaviors I see most often when coaching executives is the need to be right instead of being open to the ideas of others.

Humility is an attribute rarely associated with our conventional definition of CEO or executives. In fact, the assertive, commanding and directing personalities have been routinely applauded as the attributes of successful leaders. Though there may have been a time when some of these behaviors did advance success, in today’s world, they do not.

Let me explain.

When any one of us is more focused on needing to be right than to sourcing the best ideas, we alienate, limit and exclude others’ ideas, perspectives or directions. The need to be right over the intent to be successful or productive are two entirely different things. The former keeps you small and limited as you push away others’ ideas and thinking. The latter encourages broad thinking, continual development and improved performance.

Today’s best leaders are those who are open, supportive, good at asking questions and listening; they are committed to their own development and to the development of their employees. They know that in a knowledge economy, the success of an organization is in the brains and ideas of their employees. That means that every manager, leader and executive must learn to ask themselves these 2 questions:

  1. Who do I have to be to activate the engagement and performance of my people?
  2. What in my approach needs to change to connect with, guide, support and coach my employees to discover, develop and use what they are best at to make their greatest impact at work?

The starting point to effectively respond to both questions is to define the success attributes of a CEO, leader, manager or boss in your organization. Don’t define it as it is today, but instead as it needs to be for your organization to be an employer of choice and to consistently deliver remarkable results in today’s workplace. This is your goal. As you start to build your success plan, refer to this as your “right goalpost.”

Next, assess what works and doesn’t work in your current approach. This is your “left goalpost” – where you currently are. By assessing what works and doesn’t work, you gain the clarity and information to know where you are and what is getting in the way to prevent you from achieving the goal you created.

In other words, you have left and right goalposts, your starting point and your end goal. This allows you to see the distance or gap you need to close.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that as you reviewed your performance as leader, you noticed you are not very self-aware. You don’t really know your strengths and liabilities, so you can’t effectively manage them. As a result, you can be a victim to your triggers and emotions, frequently reacting instead of responding, which shows up in your organization through disengaged employees: your employees don’t really contribute, you see high employee turnover and it always seems like a struggle to achieve your performance goals.

Now you know what you want and you know where you are. You see the gap between the two. With this insight, you can start to identify actions to close this gap.

A potential first action may be to work with a coach to become more self-aware, to be introduced to assessment tools and to create a personal inventory of abilities. This expanded awareness will help you identify your strengths and liabilities; both will need management, which can’t happen if you are unaware of them. By managing them, you become a more intentional and mindful manager, becoming more responsive, more inclusive and more connected to your team and employees. Taking this first step helps you start to close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

Take Action

Contact me to learn how we help leaders define their goalposts and build success plans to close the gap.

Be the kind of leader that engages, inspires, activates and retains the best employees.

 

Consider reading But I’m Just Not Good At It!

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Stop Managing and Start Coaching

By Jay Forte

When I ask people to describe a coach, responses include words like “encouraging,” “connected,” “interested,” “supportive,” and “committed.”

And when I ask people to describe their managers, most of the responses include words like “boss,” “distant,” “intimidating,” “disconnected” and “challenging.”

Yikes.

If this is what most people think of their managers, how effective are these managers when it comes to activating employee engagement and exceptional performance?

We’ve transitioned from an industrial economy to a service economy, meaning that more employees work directly with customers. Successful organizations know that no two customer-facing situations are exactly the same. As a result, employees need to be tuned in and actively thinking to maximize the service experience for customers.

With a manager who coaches – engages employees into more discussions, sets clear performance expectations, provides recurring performance feedback and helps navigate career and skill development – employees can take ownership of their performance and, as a result, have greater motivation to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

The goal of shifting from managing to coaching is to activate greater achievement and performance. So how can managers shift from the outdated manager mindset to one of coaching? Here are four areas to focus on.

  1. Connect. The starting point for all great coaching is awareness of what makes employees unique and the ability to know how to connect with employees to build a rapport. This includes acknowledgement (taking the time to really hear what employees say) and validation (understanding and respecting their thoughts and feelings). The value in this, other than treating your people like people, is that the more employees feel heard, the more they share.
  2. Engage. Managers traditionally tell more than they ask. By gaining the skill of asking empowering questions, managers not only gain insight into every aspect of the business, but it also activates employees’ thinking.
  3. Guide toward solutions. Once you get your employees thinking by the use of great questions, help them learn to solve more creatively by guiding them to imagine and brainstorm. Help them learn to invent several options to each challenge or situation instead of waiting for your solution. By encouraging employees to imagine new solutions, you help them grow, feel valuable, feel heard and, ultimately, become part of the solution.
  4. Guide toward achievement. Summarizing and bottom-lining help employees move their ideas into action. Using questions like, “What is best option and what is best way to implement it?” or, “Which ideas do you feel get to the best solution and how should it be implemented?” are examples of summarizing and bottom-lining.

What it all comes down to is this: before you can activate the performance power of your employees, you have to be able to connect with them and engage them. This encourages active thinking to find new solutions they can achieve with a greater sense of ownership.

A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn in February 2017.

 

Consider reading Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

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Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

By Jay Forte

In 1992, Gary Chapman wrote The 5 Love Languages, a book that illustrated how everyone primarily feels loved in one of five ways. Knowing our love language, and the love language of the important people in our lives, helps us better understand how to share what we need and how to better understand what others need from us. This awareness has changed countless relationships.

Since we spend so much time with the people we work with, it made me think about the relationships between manager and employee, one of the most critical performance relationships in any organization. Despite the importance placed on the ability for managers and employees to connect, the Gallup Organization’s State of the American Workforce report showed that nearly 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace.

Perhaps even more disheartening is that disengagement levels are so high because of ineffective relationships between managers and employees, something that is seemingly so easy to fix. According to the Gallup, one in two employees who leave an organization leave because of their manager.

Perhaps the primary item missing from these manager-employee relationships is language. It’s not just about communicating; it’s about communicating effectively.

What if we could identify the engagement language that an employee needs so a manager can get it right more often? Knowing that we are all different and unique, why would we think a one-size-fits-all approach to connection, engagement and to making employees feel valuable would be effective?

I think there should be four types of employee engagement languages:

  1. Words of appreciation – some employees look for a compliment or supportive applause; it activates their inner higher performer. When an employee who thrives on being noticed for his or her hard work and contribution receives words of appreciation, it creates a great sense of personal value.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?
  2. Personal time – some employees like and need the one-on-one time with a manager. They feel valuable and important when their manager intentionally makes time to teach, guide or support in a personal way. Though all employees should have access to their manager in an intentional way, some employees are more actively engaged by personalized attention and time.
    • THINK: Who on your time needs this?
  3. Awards and gifts – some employees are more competitive than others and find trophies, awards or gifts more engaging. These can become tangible representations of effort, validation and applause that encourage and drive engagement.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?
  4. Development opportunities – some employees crave doing more, like having more responsibilities or having a larger influence. Selecting them for new and challenging activities, tasks and responsibilities activates and engages them.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?

Our greatest impact, influence and connection with our employees can only happen when we take the time to really know them. But how can we do this if we don’t take the time to know our own abilities and liabilities? Gaining clarity about our own attributes can help us more easily tune in to others. And doing this can help us learn their engagement language to better activate their engagement and inspire greater effort.

Important Questions from a Coach

1. What is your employee engagement language?
2. What is one thing you can start doing today to become more in tune with your employees’ engagement language?
3. How can you effectively touch each type of engagement language for your employee(s) or team?

 

Parts of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn, March 3, 2017.

Consider reading How to Succeed in Changing Times

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The Lousy Manager (and how to avoid becoming one)

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

How did you learn to be a manager? And how do you know when your management style helps create engaged employees vs. driving them away?

According to the 2017 State of the American Workplace Report by the Gallup Organization, employee disengagement is at nearly 70%. And approximately 50% of employees who leave their jobs leave because of their manager. High disengagement is due in part to poor employee-manager relationships, a critical relationship that drives organizational performance.

Having spent years working with managers and leaders, I see some repetitive management styles, some productive, many unproductive.

Productive management styles encourage employees to discover, develop and use their strengths, own their work, think critically, support others, add value and make a difference. Through productive management, employees become more engaged, activating greater performance and retention.

Unproductive management styles don’t support a focus on strengths, accountability or independent thinking.

Here are some of the most frequent unproductive management styles I’ve seen over the years:

  1. Helicopter (or training wheel) manager – You constantly hover over your employees and get involved in every decision, choice and direction. You assist them on everything because you don’t trust them and their decisions, or you feel great pressure to ensure results.
  2. Fairytale manager – You only see the good in your employees. You are not realistic about their abilities, interests, behaviors or performance.
  3. Google manager – You have the answer for everything. You never let your employees discover, learn or try things on their own.
  4. Cinderella manager – You allow yourself to be treated like the hired help. You constantly do your employees’ work for them instead of encouraging employees to take responsibility and own their work and performance.
  5. Tiffany parent – You give incentives and bonuses to everyone without a specific connection to performance, effort or commitment. Your employees have little or no concept of incentives or value.
  6. Thunderstorm manager – You always find some fault with your employees. You are the constant negative voice reminding them what is wrong, not good, or is disappointing about them; your focus is on what’s wrong not on what’s right.
  7. Drill Sergeant manager – You bark orders, demand, confront and challenge. Your employees fear you and are reluctant to share ideas with you.
  8. Pageant manager – You constantly make everything a competition or a comparison, always talking about winners and losers and comparing your employees to each other. You use words like worst, best, better, nicer, smarter or better.
  9. Secret agent manager – You are always checking up on your employees, whether it’s their social media activity, their emails or even if they’re just at their desks. You are convinced they are always ready do something they shouldn’t, or show up and do less than is expected.
  10. Parrot manager – You constantly repeat what the latest management sources say as your way of managing, whether meaningful or not to your employees and your environment. You quote experts but don’t use their wisdom to affect your own behavior. You talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

These styles take away confidence from your employees, hindering performance.

Some of the productive management styles I’ve seen over the years include:

  1. Improv manager – You show up, accept what is going on and use what you know in the moment to choose the best response for the situation and employee. You don’t use managing scripts or apply a one-size-fits-all approach. You are tuned in to the details of your people, performance and opportunities.
  2. Coaching manager – You regularly use questions to get your employees thinking and owning their choices, decisions and directions. You ask more than tell and listen carefully to the responses. You help your employees discover, create and own their solutions; you get to know each of your employees in a way that helps you guide and support them in their current and long-term success. You treat them personally, care about them and make time for them.
  3. Zen manager – You are tuned in. You know yourself and manage your emotions, giving you the ability to more easily separate your employee from his or her actions to address specific behaviors.
  4. Professor manager – You encourage your employees to constantly learn. You introduce them to new ideas and opportunities, and help them value self-development, learning and expanding their skills. You applaud and support them in expanding their thinking and raising their performance.

Just like your employees choose how they show up to their jobs, you choose how to show up as a manager.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. Where do you see yourself in these management styles? Are any of these your “go-to” management style?
  2. Is your style effective or ineffective?
  3. Take a moment to tune in to your work environment. How does your management style impact your employees? Are they happy and engaged? Or doing just enough to not get fired?
  4. Are there changes you can make to inspire greater engagement from your employees?

Think you may benefit from a coaching session? Contact Jay Forte for a complimentary 15-minute introductory discussion to determine if coaching is right for you.

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The full article originally appeared on Jay’s LinkedIn page, April 2017.

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