Here’s a question that an executive emailed me the other day. I thought the dialogue was blog worthy and valuable enough to share with you.
“In your article “Asking the right questions when coaching employees” you suggested asking employees how they would like to be managed. My question to you is – if I have several direct reports and they each ask to be managed differently, it sounds like opening up a can of worms. Wouldn’t it set the manager up for failure – to let the employees dictate how the department is run?”
It all depends how you position it with your team. Be careful of collapsing them running the ship and setting the direction with the best way to communicate to them so they are empowered and motivated to achieve their goals and core responsibilities without pushback. The point here is, every manager can’t manage each person the same way. After all, everyone comes to the table with a different, attitude, skill set, mindset, way of doing things, communication style, and certainly a different way they like to be motivated and held accountable. Lots of moving parts here. That’s why you must tap into their individuality. Think of it this way, if you’re able to set up how they like to be managed up front, and you manage them that way, then you can never be the bad guy! Here are some examples of questions that are meant to uncover how you need to hold them accountable and the management style that they respond best to:
• How can I best support you to achieve your goals? (Uncover how each employee wants to be managed and supported.) How can I best manage you and hold you accountable for the results you are looking to achieve?
• How can I hold you accountable in a way that will sound supportive and won’t come across as negative or micro-managing?
• How do you want me to approach you if you don’t follow through with the commitments you make?
• How do you want me to handle it? What would be a good way to bring this up with you so that you will be open to hearing it?
As you can see, you’re not changing goals, expectations, or standards. You’re just learning how to approach them and hold them accountable for doing their job in the way they are going to be most receptive to, without negativity or resistance from the other side.
This may be old thinking, or did I misunderstand the article? I’m thinking how this would translate on a day to day basis – especially if staff needs conflict with each other.
Staff needs will always conflict with each other – after all we are human. However, I’m referring to those personal staff needs vs. what they need to function at their best and do what they were hired to do in the first place. Each person will have different needs, driftnet levels of acumen, different training and coaching requirements, different personal goals and different styles of communication. Some need more hands on, where others function well with full autonomy. That’s why you adapting your communication style to theirs helps them accelerate their productivity faster.
I’ve been coached that I need to manage in my own style, but I’m not sure how this fits into just doing what my staff expects of me.
Yes, you do need to manage in your own style, as long as that style isn’t the old limiting, toxic, fear based and debilitating management style that I coach managers to stay away from and evolve more into the transparent, collaborative leader and coach. Be carful not to collapse how to coach and communicate with them with holding them to different standards. Think of it more as how you need to adjust the way in which you’re engaging and communicating with them. You are still holding each person on your team accountable for the same standard and expectations of performance. And you still want to coach people leveraging your personality, style, strengths, values and natural talents. Moreover, you also need to practice the best coaching approach and methodology, as there are certain core competencies that every coach and manager need to develop in order to have the proper benchmarks they can hold themselves against and use to duplicate themselves or develop other managers. However, I’m suggesting to learn how to adapt to how they like to communicate how they like to be communicated to and their communication style. If you can do so successfully, you win in the end.
Am I crazy, did I miss something or is there something more to consider?
I think my comments above cover your questions. If not please let me know. And no, I don’t think you’re crazy! 🙂