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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.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY BRANDON SAWYER
Sales of small businesses surged in 2013 according to the biggest Internet marketplace of such transactions, BizBuySell, increasing to 7,056 reported sales, a 24% increase over 2012, when they dropped 7%. Portland Metro sales tracked by the site grew 9% to 73, capping three years of solid growth. On top of that, Portland’s median sale price jumped 67% to $250K, versus just 13% to $180K nationally. Portland was one of just six metros tracked where the median sale price matched the median asking price, with sellers getting, on average, 92% of what they asked.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.
Friday, April 04, 2014
BY ERIC FRUITS
The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Our 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.
Friday, February 28, 2014
The 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list was announced Thursday night at an awards dinner at the Oregon Convention Center.
Friday, March 14, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Five books that will make you a better leader.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?
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