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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Be On the Disengagement Hunt

There are things in your workplace and life that disengage the people around you.

It could be meetings that run long, have no agenda and don’t seem to get things accomplished. Or working for a manager who has never learned how to be self-managed so they make everything urgent and operate in react mode.

It could be outdated household rules that used to make sense but now don’t. Or it could be conflict between two siblings who just haven’t learned how to respect and honor the feelings of each other.

Regardless, there are things in our days that make work and life disengaging, things that take the wind out of us, tax our energy, challenge our emotions and encourage a feeling to either do just enough or to check out.

Can you think of one of these going on right now?

In these situations, work and life don’t seem either great or productive.

What to do?

Amp up your vision and become more intentionally aware of those things that you and others say and do that deactivate, depress or stress others. Pay attention on purpose to not only what is said and done but how it happens. These moments have information for you from which you can start to make small changes that result in raising the energy and engagement in your situations.

It could be something as seemingly small as saying a positive comment to a coworker on their way into a meeting. It could be sharing how to have a productive argument with your two teens so they learn how to solve problems instead of just aggravating each other. It could be being aware and mindful enough to not say that sarcastic or biting comment because you know the effect it will have on the recipient.

Ask yourself: are you watching, considering and choosing (on purpose) what and how you do things to raise the engagement and make the outcome better?

Take Action
Place a Post-It note in a place you will see it frequently with a message like “make things better” or “engage don’t disengage.” Create whatever word or phrase will remind you to watch for the events, circumstances and things that disengage the people around you, then choose to change what and how you do things to change the mood, energy and engagement level. The change will impress you.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Thank You For What Didn’t Happen

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Find Your Voice. Be the Change.

By Jay Forte

Over the weekend of March 24-25, 2018, millions of people – led by student activists –walked, marched and carried signs demanding greater and saner gun laws. It took a series of horrific events to unify them into a formidable powerhouse, focused on inspiring change.

This is a learning experience on a number of levels. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on action. On taking a stand. On finding your voice. On becoming the change you want to see in your world.

Too many of us sit back and wait for others to step up and take action on issues or situations that are important to us. But there are so many places in your day where you have the ability to define what you stand for and then actually stand up for what you believe. It can be something seemingly simple like developing the technology rules for your house to manage your kids’ connection time. It can be something a little more challenging, like standing up to a bully at school or at work (yes, there is actually more bullying going on in the workplace than at schools). It can be something that is deeply important to you, like mobilizing to do something about the sugar in our foods or the number of plastic water bottles floating in our oceans.

So what stops us?

  1. Fear. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of reprisal. Fear of being ostracized. Fear for our job. We play out stories of what could happen to us if we post how we really feel about something on Facebook or Twitter, or what could happen if we speak out about something we don’t think is right at our workplace, church or in our community. We are afraid to challenge the status quo, even when the status quo is outdated, unreasonable and needs changing.
  2. Lack of self-awareness. Many of us don’t know our talents, strengths and abilities. We fail to see how capable we are, that we have what it takes to stand up, use our voice and look to make things better. Because we don’t know how capable we are, we doubt ourselves and yield to the louder voices around us. This keeps us quiet and overlooking things instead of taking a stand to support, defend, challenge or resist. Developing your self-awareness helps you find your inner greatness and values that become your voice as you look at your world and hold yourself accountable to making a difference.

I applaud the student movement that sees the value of life as a greater value than having automatic weapons – and for having the courage, the confidence and the resilience to demand something better, share what they think and hold us all accountable – for taking a stand. Whether you agree or disagree with their message, they are holding themselves accountable for being the change.

As Winston Churchill said, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

When you get tapped by an event, person or circumstance, will you step up or step back? Will you raise your voice or go down to a whisper?

The world is built by the people who are right here, right now. Stand up for what you think is right. Commit to what makes the world a better, happier, kinder, more loving and safer place. Then find your role in it and take a stand. You could be the one who changes things for the better.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What is one thing you can do today to start to raise your voice on a situation, issue or event that matters to you?
  2. How can you become more self-aware to recognize the places where your voice can and should be heard?
  3. How can you hold yourself accountable for being the change on an issue that matters to you?

 

Consider reading Experience Isn’t Your Enemy

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Tune Out To Tune In

By Jay Forte

It is rare to see someone not connected to a device. We’re constantly gathering information from sources that fill our brains with things others think are important. But there is something this constant chatter can never give you – information about you.

It is obviously necessary to stay connected in today’s world. However, before you can truly understand the impact of the news and information you hear, you need to know you – the you that has to make choices about what’s right for you and what’s not for you in both work and life. This requires tuning out to tune in.

Every one of us has unique and amazing talents and strengths that are distinctively ours. There are no two people on the planet who share identical profiles and, as a result, there isn’t anything the outside world will tell you that will help you identify your talents and strengths to help you find your fit. No one will hand you an owners’ manual or a life guide book; you have to write this yourself.

We can find our particular place and way of living, one that aligns to what we do and love best, because we are all different and unique. It is in this alignment that we can choose how we show up in every moment of our lives, regardless of whether that moment is big or small.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness expert and author, shares that if you are able to be more aware in this moment, then you are able to use the information from this moment to make your next moment better.

Basically, if you can be self-aware in this moment – to you know your talents, strengths, passions and interests – you can use that information to make a better and wiser decision about you in the next moment. True, you need to know what is going on in your world too, but only after you discover who you are to use what you know of you to make wise decisions in your world. Don’t let the world tell you who to be – know who you are and bring the real you to find your fit in all areas of work and life.

To access this critical information, tune out the noisy, opinionated and directing world and tune in to you – the wise, talented and amazingly unique person you are. Doing so will give you access to the information needed to make wiser and better choices.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What do you notice about yourself when you really pay attention to who you are and what makes you, you?
  2. How can learning about the real you help improve your decisions in work and life?
  3. What can you do today to disconnect from the world to better understand yourself?

You are great and awesome just as you are. Don’t be a stranger to yourself – take the time to discover, develop and live the true you. You are here to do great things.

 

Consider reading Create a Personal Report Card

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