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|Friday, September 27, 2013|
BY TOM COX | BUSINESS TIPS CONTRIBUTOR
Tim walked out of his team’s weekly meeting in a daze.
It was supposed to be a routine meeting. It turned into a debacle.
Five minutes in, Susie had hijacked the meeting to blurt out a litany of complaints she had, mostly about Tim.
Everyone else stared in silent fascination for the next 20 minutes.
To his credit, Tim had listened openly and tried to understand Susie’s perspective.
Unfortunately, as he sat thinking about it afterward, he realized he did not understand.
Tim had been managing Susie and Lisa in their work on a client contract. Susie was the best analyst on the team, but had zero experience creating client-facing deliverables. Lisa by contrast had decades of experience creating polished products to put in front of clients.
So, after Susie had done most of the analysis and created a solid working draft, Tim had assigned Lisa to take over finishing the work.
And therein lay the problem that threatened to fracture the team.
Susie felt completely disrespected by Tim. She felt that her work was being somehow credited to someone else. And she felt that if her work wasn’t fit to go in front of a client, that she should be told why.
What Tim Did Wrong
You and I have both done what Tim did: we made a decision and executed it, without properly informing others of our reasons.
That might be okay for an emergency room, where seconds matter. In most workplaces, it’s not.
By taking the work away from Susie, Tim inadvertently sent the signal that her work wasn’t good. Tim also underestimated the emotional value to Susie of having the client receive her work product. Tim wanted Susie to take pride in her work, and then destroyed her ability to have any pride in it.
And Tim never gave his reasons. He offered no explanations — leaving a vacuum, a lack of data.
Human beings handle the lack of data … badly. We tend to fill the emptiness with our own imagination.
The monster under the bed is always scarier than the monster in plain view.
Tim gave Susie no explanation, so she invented her own. (Any time you find yourself surprised at a subordinate’s anger, or find they’re making up negative stories, look to see if you left an information vacuum.)
In summary, Tim’s errors included:
Fortunately, doing better is actually quite easy.
What Tim Should do Next Time
A good leader is always looking for opportunities to improve relationships and improve capabilities. In Tim’s case, next time he should:
In Tim’s case, it would look something like this:
Tentative decision: move working draft from Susie to Lisa for final polish before giving to client.
Reasons: second pair of eyes to proofread the work; take advantage of Lisa’s experience with polishing final products
Next Step: Show the above to Susie and ask for her thoughts. Example question: “Susie, here’s what I’m thinking about doing and why. What are your thoughts? What am I missing?”
This is one way to exercise “Including” — one of the ALICE skills that good managers use:
Read more about developing the first two ALICE skills here.
One other thing Tim needs to do — acknowledge Susie’s contributions, such as by having her listed as a co-creator on the cover sheet, or having her co-present the final product.
(You can receive my free 1-page “Work Sheet for Over-Requiring Managers” by clicking here.)
Tom Cox is a Beaverton consultant, author and speaker. He coaches CEOs on how to boost performance by building workplace trust.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”
Thursday, July 10, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
BY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.
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