I’m working with a small company where the employees all operate within silos. That is, they know their area, work in their area and stay in their area. While they are aware of others areas of responsibility, the company over time has perpetuated the “I know my job and how to do it best so butt out” philosophy. As a result, people only do what they were hired to do.
In all of my experiences, I’ve learned that small companies are often dominated by one personality (The Personality) who drives everything. From the ski store I worked at when I was in college to several companies I consult with right now, The Personality rules. The Personality is resistant to change because they have a
comfort level with where their business is at and how it operates. The
Personality can also seem on the surface to be a good manager, and although the
communication may seem open, it is always one-on-one and nothing ever gets resolved. The Personality doesn’t even realize that they’re driving their entire team to retreat into their respective areas.
Employees will only be satisfied so long as they feel they can contribute and make a difference. Most times, employees will hang tight for a year or two or three because they like what they’re doing. But in working for The Personality, they eventually come to learn the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and somehow expecting a different result.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Communication is the key to being a great manager (and shedding your role as The Personality).
I was thinking back to the myriad of people I’ve work for and worked with, and one thing kept popping into my mind – “What type of manager are they”?
I was reminded of a class I took in college which used a text book called, Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness by Dr. Phillip Clampitt, Ph.D. Phil (as we called him, and not to be confused with another Dr. Phil (who has nothing on Phil Clampitt)) is a professor and also has a communications consulting business called MetaComm. In his book, Phil highlighted three types of managers – The Arrow Manager, the Circle Manager and the Dance Manager.
- The Arrow manager is a classic one-way communicator. Communication flows from the owner to the employees in one direction only. Feedback isn’t solicited, employees become disgruntled, and “it’s my way or the highway” rules. Employees attempt to create a dialogue with The Personality, offering ideas and suggestions, but they are met with resistance, or are listened to and then ignored. Employees eventually get frustrated and leave.
- The Circle manager puts relationships above all else. Communication goes round and round in a circle, and the manager avoids conflict at all costs, preferring to preserve the relationship versus moving the company forward. Employees feel good that they have such an open dialogue with their manager, but nothing ever gets resolved and the company stagnates. Employees in this category move on because they lose trust in their manager and what he or she tells them.
- The Dance manager is the consummate professional. They know that communication is as individual as a dance partner, who changes the dance, the step, the speed and the style depending on whom they’re communicating with. Dance managers operate with honesty, integrity and respect, expecting their employees to do the same. As a result, communication is open and employees always know where they stand (they hear the good and the bad). Employees working for dance managers stick around longer because they know that Dance managers are hard to come by.
So Mr./Mrs./Ms. Personality, what type of manager are you? Your need to be The Personality is probably causing you to be either an Arrow or a Circle manager. As a result, employees are disgruntled because of your management style and they’re leaving you because of that.
Morphing into a dance manager takes time. And it’s incredibly difficult to do because our management and communications styles are innate as well as learned. In order to morph, you have to be open first, and then be willing to unlearn every bad habit you’ve developed over the past 5, 10, 20 or more years.
However, if you start with open, honest communication and couple that with striking a balance between doing what’s best for the business while also grooming and developing your employees, you’ll be on your way to being a well-respected Dance manager.
What’s stopping your from becoming a Dance manager?