You Can’t Manage People You Don’t Know

During the industrial age, we, as managers, found it effective and efficient to treat employees the same – they were a homogenous group of abilities and skills, not a diverse group of distinct people. This has often been referred to as the “cog” economy where the sole purpose of an employee was to get the job done. The more employees blended into each other by acting the same, the easier the process of production.

Today’s service workplace is a radically different environment. Today’s employees need to be able to provide service experiences, connecting more personally with customers and choosing who and how to be in each customer interaction to provide a customer event that inspires loyalty. Employee uniqueness is now a requirement for the work.

This changes how managers must interact with their employees. Consider these two scenarios:

Think of one of your great employees who is ready for more responsibility, based on their current work, effort and performance. How do you know where to direct this employee, or how to develop them to continue their successful performance? Larger roles don’t naturally mean future success and misaligning the employee may lead to their disengagement and departure.

Think of one of your average employees, one who gets the work done but requires more significant management and seems disinterested and distracted. How can you start to investigate what is causing the performance challenge? Unless addressed, this performance could remain average, affecting the quality of their customer interactions, the employee’s engagement level and the success of the business. 

Both situations could benefit from expanding what you know of your people.

Successful managers make the time to gather information about the performance abilities and human attributes of their people. Yes, our days are busy, but there are ways to increase knowledge of your employees without taking away from the work that still needs to be done.

Here are 3 tips to help you create the situation to start to intentionally gather useful and relationship-building information about your employees.

  1. Think like a coach. Coaches are interested in the person they are coaching – to know who they are, what motivates them, what their goals are, what their strengths are, what their liabilities and triggers are. Coaches make time to get fully acquainted with the people they coach to fully understand them so they can wisely guide them. This can only happen when trust is established. Trust comes from taking the time and expressing and interest. This is critical in today’s manager / employee relationships.
  2. Develop a “get to know you” questionnaire or process for your employees. Consider gathering information such as strengths, interests and their favorite way to learn, for example. Expanding what you know of each employee will provide you with the information you need to manage them successfully and build a more personal and supportive relationship.
  3. Make time. People need time to get to know each other. Make time each week to spend even a few moments with each member of your team or, depending on the size of your team, create a schedule to make time with everyone on your team over the course of a month. One-on-one time matters and is a great way to better understand your employees.

It may be easier to manage every employee the same way but it won’t get you the results you want and need. Customization is the only effective way to manage in today’s workplace. When you know the important information about your employees and commit to being more present to your conversations, discussions and interactions with them, you improve your relationship and your management which will better activate their engagement, performance and loyalty.  

Take Action
Identify one employee you know well and one you are not as familiar with. Spend time with each, then assess what you now know about them. How can this help you manage them more effectively? How can this help you build a stronger relationship as relationships influence employee engagement and loyalty?

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Pay or Purpose – What Really Activates Employee Performance?

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Don’t Just Capture the Moment. Be in the Moment

Technology – it is like a Dickens novel; it is the best of times and the worst of times. It can do so many great things for us while simultaneously turning us into zombies who move through life capturing where we are but never really experiencing it.

We have all become chroniclers – more ready to tell and show people what we are doing and experiencing instead of actually doing and experiencing. We rush to post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter without realizing we’re only sharing part of what really happened.

Before you say, “That’s not me!” think about it. Go to any great party, national monument or famous place. Eat at an amazing restaurant. Stand on the shores of a great beach. Fly over the mountains. See your son or daughter take their first steps. See a famous painting or sculpture. See something really unusual or unique. In all of these, do you reach for your phone to document what is going on so you can share it?

We spend so much time trying to record the moment that we forget to be in the moment, to really experience it. All of the emotions, sensations and observations.

Memories come from experiences. Sure, we can look back at a picture, but it would be better to spend less time trying to get the perfect shot in favor of being fully present to what the moment, location and experience is giving you. Smell the aromas. Taste the environment. Connect with the people. Feel the wind, the breeze, the rain, the sun, the snow or whatever else is part of the moment. Each of these make the moment. Each of these contribute to the memory. These are the things a picture or video can’t give back.

Just for a moment, presume you don’t have access to your phone or tablet. You have no way to document this exact moment other than to be fully present to it – to notice every detail using all of your senses. Take a breath and take it all in. This exact moment is making a great recording in your mind that will show up many times in your life. Moreover, this moment will feel full – exciting – joyful. You see more, feel more and experience more than if you act as if you are on the tour bus trying to get the best shot of the Eiffel Tower or a Dutch windmill. More will happen in this moment than you can capture in an image. Be in the moment to gather all it has for you.

Our technology gives us amazing abilities. But just like with anything, there are often challenges that come from too much good. In this case, too much technology can rob us from our personal connections with others (face-to-face conversations) and the things we experience in the moments of our lives. Wouldn’t it be better to share a story of all that you fully experienced instead of quickly showing a photo? Others will experience more of what you experienced as you fill in the details of the more robust experience. Help them feel what you felt. Help them experience what you experienced. That can only happen if you choose to experience it instead of focusing on recording it.

Take Action
Challenge yourself to put your phone down for a set amount of time during the day. Maybe you start by saying no phones at the dinner table. Maybe it’s for one hour after dinner while you read, do something around the house or pursue a hobby. Each day, add 5 minutes to that time. You’ll find in just a few weeks that your phone is a piece of technology you value and appreciate instead of lean on. You’ll find you have a greater sense of self and your relationships will benefit by putting the phone away. You’ll find you have greater memories of each moment you got back that week.

Give it a try. Tell us how it goes.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Your Check Engine Light

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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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Are Your Employees Sitting on the Sidelines?

By Jay Forte

You have some amazing and remarkable employees who do great things in your workplace. And then you have some employees who do just enough not to get fired.

Sure, these employees show up, but they don’t have the energy, drive and commitment to do the important things in the workplace that advances performance and success. Is it you or is it them?

It is likely a little of both.

The Gallup Organization regularly cites statistics on the engagement levels of employees in the workplace. And alarmingly, nearly 70% of employees are in some form of disengagement. This disengagement happens for many reasons but the most significant are the lack of job alignment and meaningful relationships with managers. Both need to work in concert.

Let me explain.

Alignment is the process of knowing the success attributes of any role and using those attributes to wisely source, interview and hire someone who fits that role. This also applies to knowing and using the success attributes of any role when developing or promoting employees. It is critical for someone to have the abilities needed to be successful in a role.

Alignment, however, cannot stand on its own. You also need a strong, effective and professional working relationship.

In a 2015 study by Peter Massingham and Leona Tam titled, The Relationship Between Human Capital, Value Creation and Employee Reward, the researchers state, “Employee capability may or may not generate value. It is only when individuals are motivated to use their knowledge that it creates organizational benefit, otherwise it is an idle resource.”

Though you may (and must) hire wisely, the job alignment combined with the quality of the relationship the employee has with his or her manager ultimately dictates success. When we feel inspired by those we work for because they make the time for us, value us, develop us and treat us like we matter, we volunteer our best abilities and deliver them with greater energy and effort in the workplace. The result? Greater productivity and performance.

When we don’t make the effort to build the manager-employee relationship, we encourage our employees to move to the sidelines, to do just enough to get by, instead of really contributing. Though they may have what it takes to be great in their roles (they have the abilities), they still need the inspiration, encouragement and interest by their manager to move these abilities from idle to full speed.

Your employees choose how they show up to the moments of their days. Do they do just enough? Or do they fully engage, using their greatest abilities to invent, challenge and improve everything they encounter?

This choice is inspired by how you manage. Are you bringing a healthy combination of alignment and relationships to your workplace?

Take Action

Learn how to be a mindful and inspiring manager. Our Executive Coaching guides you through foundational tools to help leaders and managers better connect with their employees and deliver greater results. Contact us for more information.


Consider reading Stop Managing and Start Coaching

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