The Role Model
Managers should create a mental role model and strive to make it a part of their behavior, creating the perception of a perfect role model that every employee wants to emulate.
The role model manager may not be a real person. Your true personality may be different than the one presented. If you perceive that as “pretending” or “acting”, it is. Offering the world a model portrait of your professional position serves a valuable purpose.
People will experience frustrations in the workplace. It is impossible to satisfy everyone’s needs all the time. Once a need is unfulfilled and the possibility for satisfaction is gone, the mind stores that frustration in a very special place — mental baggage.
The desire to fulfill that need may turn into an obsession for fulfillment. When that need goes unresolved it’s usually because the person or situation creating that baggage is no longer available to resolve the issue.
The worker may demonstrate behaviors that range anywhere from a need to be praised to a series of demands for indulgence resulting in special considerations and leniency on the part of the manager.
There is probably little you can do to keep this person motivated. The best approach will normally be to terminate the relationship.
His or her need to resolve old baggage will grind down any relationship you may have created an environment of confusion, anxiety, and disorderliness.
Therefore, we will focus our attention on the person whose mental baggage has not reached the level of obsession.
Role Model Characteristics
An effective manager does not have to be perceived as brilliant, charismatic, skilled in the performance of Tactical Work, Knowledgeable in all areas related to the application, perfect or anything else of that sort. The following behaviors are what constitute the Model Manager.
You have to be perceived as an “emotional rock,” a pillar of calmness in the middle of chaos. Understand, you may have absolutely no solution to the conditions that may have disturbed the group producing their anxiety; all you need to be is calm and reassuring. Employees will take their cues from you. Should you become rattled, they will lose confidence, not only in you but also in themselves. Since most people perceive themselves as incapable of coping without guidance and support, they may not assert a steadying hand to fill the void. Quite the opposite, they would reflect your anxiety in their behavior making the situation even worse. Your calmness will assure them that everything is all right, affording them the stability to survive the crisis.
You must be fair to a fault. The perception of preferential treatment will eventually erode the foundation of any team.
We are habit-forming beings who thrive on routine. Unless our world is predictable, we may become dysfunctional. Employees must always be able to rely on your reactions to situations. If something pleases you today, it should please you tomorrow; what makes you unhappy should always be unacceptable. Erratic behavior will keep employees off balance because they never quite know from day-to-day how they will be perceived or what reactions their behavior will draw. Employees will adjust to an unpredictable leader by becoming passive and compliant. Instead of being committed to results, they may attempt to humor the manager’s unconventional behavior. The main objective of their careers will be “to keep the boss off my back.” They “turn political.” More worried about the manager’s reactions than about what is accomplished. They become skilled at avoiding their managers displeasure; and only highly filtered information will be communicated upward; mistakes will be concealed; blame is continuously transferred to others; any interaction with the manager will be avoided at all costs, and they will begin to agree with judgments even if they consider them faulty, thereby withholding valuable input that could have a major impact on success.
Employees need to perceive you as honest to the extent of not lying to them even though they realize that certain kinds of information must be withheld. There are “state secrets”. Statements you do make should be considered sincere and reliable.
Accountability leads to a perception of the manager being protective of employees because it holds the manager solely accountable for the group’s performance. For that reason, the manager should never transfer blame to his or her employee for inadequate results — as the person who is in command, you “take the lumps” on behalf of the team. By doing so, you will establish yourself as a buffer between your people and the outside world.
You must be perceived as endlessly patient. You should never react angrily when employees make honest mistakes; that is, mistakes that are not the result of a poor attitude. Willingness to listen. Employees need to feel that you are truly listening in a non-judgmental way.
Managers need to be immovable when they believe their position is valid. As a manager, you inform people of the limits beyond which they may not go. In so doing you actually supply your employee with a sense of security because you give them evidence that someone strong is in command at all times, someone who is caring & fair but definitely not a “pushover” if discipline is required. To paraphrase an age-old cliché, the ideal manager is ” fair, but firm.”
The relationship between a manager and employee is complex with a number of different aspects. You must adopt a variety of roles that include those of adviser, friend, parent and whatever else the employee needs you to be at any particular moment.
Role Model Behaviors
“Teaching by example” may be a shopworn phrase, but it has stood the test of time. It’s meaning is simple: You make the greatest impact by virtue of your actions, not your words. In a managerial context, no matter how often or sincerely you urge your employees to be attentive in their relations with customers; they will only begin to manifest the desired behavior when you demonstrate your willingness to do it.
If you have the typical manager’s perception, you may underestimate the emotional impact you have on your employees, believing instead that they are immune to the messages you send. People you manage may emulate you to the point of becoming almost carbon copies because they look to you for guidance in handling the daily problems of business. They may adopt your jargon, imitate your style of dress, and assume the same attitudes toward customers as you have and so on — and all without ever making a conscious decision to do so. If you are going to have that kind of effect on people, it would serve you well to assure yourself that the impact is what you want it to be.
As your people witness your composed approach to problems and emergencies, they will begin to internalize the lesson that they shouldn’t become rattled when the pressure is on.
Commitment to Improvement
By your example, teach your people to strive for better ways to get things done while implementing current processes and policies. Basically, abide by what has already been developed with a consistent effort for improvement.
Desire for Learning
By remaining open-minded and seeking knowledge wherever you can find it, you will convey the message that they should always be willing to place themselves in the posture of the students, just as you are. The search for knowledge keeps the mind alert and active, often resulting in innovations from members of your group.
It is one thing to be rational; it is quite another to be reasonable. To be rational is to rigidly impose the rules of formal Logic upon life and all human behavior. Remember, the purpose of your public example is to give your people something to emulate.
Thoroughness and Persistence
A half-hearted and shallow approach to accountabilities will spoil the results of your group. Through your own actions, you must demonstrate the persistent implementation of systems and policies, the dissatisfaction with compromised results, and the refusal to gloss over serious problems.
Business brings its share of disappointments, frustrations and outright disasters into the lives of the people. Rather than naively hoping that nothing bad will ever happen, employees should be prepared to bounce back from the setbacks of business no matter how bad they may seem to be at the time.
Employees should perceive that their future is closely tied to the future of the company: A common destiny: The link between the person and that destiny you. You play a role in embodying the spirit and the future of the company and should demonstrate basic loyalty to the firm.
Employees do not work for their companies, but for their managers. That is where the bonds are formed. The company becomes a reflection of the manager. How an employee feels about the company is a reflection of how he or she feels about you.
No Cynicism in the workplace!
Cynics are tragic people whose self-perception is so bad that they cannot begin to imagine a world where optimism, dreaming, commitment to something greater than oneself and the desire to do something truly remarkable could possibly exist. Always “looking for the angle,” they can trust no one because they can’t even trust themselves.
Cynicism, distrust, sarcasm, suspicion, skepticism, doubt, scorn and backbiting are unacceptable behaviors that have NO PLACE IN THE WORKPLACE! When these terrible, vile behaviors are observed, get rid of the behavior immediately by whatever means necessary!
Be careful about how you express frustrations to employees. How you actually feel about any situation is not the issue. The issue is how your reactions are perceived: Your reactions or perceived reactions will “set the mood” for the entire team. Be responsible.
Employees have an emotional need to be managed by someone perceived as better than they are so they might have a model to emulate in addressing daily problems. The act of simply being you may not be enough. Perception is the reality.
The “Micro-Manager” assigns a task and then immediately hounds people until the task is completed. This type of manager can be found continually announcing reminders and due date reminders. Micro Managing produces very undesirable results.
The result is a de-motivated subordinate who depends too heavily on the manager. Before long, the pestered person begins relying on the manager to issue the needed reminders and, if they do not occur, the work will not be done. A subordinate, moreover, can easily develop feelings of inadequacy, since the manager is providing continual evidence of mistrust.
The “Hands Off Manager”
Many managers operate in a completely opposite manner. For them, the way to regulate work is to assign a task and to virtually forget about it, believing that they are giving their employees evidence of trust. In reality, they are allowing the result to deteriorate by not maintaining control. Then, when the due date finally arrives and the project is either unfinished or done incorrectly, they often react emotionally and complain about the lack of good people.
The Hands-Off manager usually appears to be very calm and reserved, his or her operation is nothing but chaos. Employees make decisions and follow varied, often conflicting, courses of action without the slightest degree of guidance.
Maintaining a healthy balance
The ideal approach is to strike a balance between the two extremes. Maintain tight control over all the work without lapsing into micromanaging.
- Map out every action that needs to happen with a “due by” date.
- Assign accountabilities to each task.
- Schedule progress meetings to review work scope progress.
- Incorporate reporting or “status reports” for you to review on a daily or weekly
- the basis to ensure all impact targets are being met.
- If you notice any task, target or project deviating from the plan, take the appropriate action to get the plan back on track.
- If you notice that everything is on track, congratulate the team’s efforts and encourage them to keep up the good work.
Managers may accept and even reward poor results. The reason for this is mainly due to the manager’s unwillingness to demand perfection. In some cases, managers simply do not know what constitutes quality work (due to the lack of a process) or, they accept explanations or excuses as to why it cannot be achieved. For the most part, however, managers are emotionally reluctant to confront employees when the work is sub-standard. The three main reasons for this are as follows.
It is difficult for most people to criticize imperfection when they perceive a large degree of it in themselves. They feel guilty. They may operate under the premise that “You should put your own house in order first.” Your “own house” will never be totally “in order,” no matter how hard you work. Getting results requires that imperfect people (which we all are) manage other imperfect people.
The underachieving employee will complain. Most of the complaints will be directed towards you, which is really their way of dealing with their own failure. After hearing about your unfairness or inadequacy, it is almost predictable that you will begin believing it, for the simple reason that no one more than you are aware of your own shortcomings. Before long, you might begin to wonder if you have not dealt your employee a grave injustice, especially if verbal torture continues. As a result, whenever an employee deserves constructive criticism or coaching, you may be reluctant to react due to miss-guided perception that their failure is your fault.
The REVERSE DELEGATION TRAP
No matter how many times the subordinate must redo the work, the constant repetition is better than you doing it for them. Many managers practice “reverse delegation” by bailing their employees out when they can’t perform a task. Each time you say “Let me do it for you,” you are reinforcing a behavior that will cause them to constantly dump undone work on you. Soon “upward delegation” becomes automatic. Besides, he or she will never learn to do the work if you always do it for them. People learn by doing, not by watching.
Managing Change: part 1
Many processes are never implemented because managers cannot persuade employees to use them. Despite their pleas, bribes and threats, implementation fails to happen because managers may use a less than a desirable method of execution.
Problem Solving Concept
Most managers approach their problems in the wrong way. They may think they have people or resource problems. Often times, the real problem may be identifying the wrong problem.
Whenever you approach the task of problem-solving, couch your thinking in terms of issues that are well beyond the obvious.
For example, assume you have an excellent Salesperson who suddenly resigns. When you find a replacement, you soon learn that Salespeople tend to set up their presentations to suit their preferences. For a period of time, you are forced to put up with chaos until the new person settles in. Even then, there are likely to be certain quirks, but you accept them because you are convinced that a sales process is, ultimately, the result of the salesperson’s discretion.
That is the typical manager’s reaction since he or she perceives the situation as a people problem. That is, you had better find a good Salesperson; otherwise, sales results will be disastrous.
That is the obvious solution. It is also the wrong one. If you look past the obvious, you will discover that you need to have a sales process in place.
When you recruit a new Salesperson, you simply say, “This is our system. If you want to work here, you must use it. Do you want the job?”
If you already have a Salesperson, the challenge becomes more complex because you must implement a process that will replace the manner in which the work is currently being done.
In the latter scenario, when you begin the effort by announcing: “We need a new process,” you will immediately incur some level of resistance because the very introduction of the process may be wrong.
“The Current Process Is Good Enough”
No process is ever good enough. A successful manager is constantly searching for more effective ways of getting things done. Besides, if you have reached the point where you realize that a new process is needed, conditions are probably even worse than you could imagine!
“I Don’t Have Time Right Now”
The people who don’t have time right now to implement a new process will never have the time. In fact, the objection makes no sense because an effective process should ultimately save time.
“My Situation is different”
What’s really being said here is that there aren’t enough similarities in sales to justify the use of a general process. (i.e. procedures, presentations, etc.). Consider the custom manufacturer who produces products for customers with different needs. Each job is different but the process to accomplish the objective is the same.
“We Don’t Need a Process-Everybody Knows What to Do”
It is a fair assump¬tion that everyone does not know what to do. Even if they did, a process that exists nowhere but in people’s heads does not really exist. The moment the slightest change occurs (someone leaves or is promoted), you are left with nothing.
“Processes Take Away Individuality”
Working in an organized, disciplined fashion tends to produce excellent results providing pride and accomplishment. Processes can provide individuality by enabling people to set themselves apart based upon their ability to perform.
“I Don’t Know How It Works”
Once a process has been put in place, you may hear this reaction. Sometimes, a Salesperson will come forward with a question in a sincere attempt to understand. More often, the “lack of understanding” will be communicated with silent avoidance. It is common, and very frustrating, for managers to assume that a process is being used, only to learn (usually by accident) that it’s not. When asked why they failed to implement the process, employees usually say, “I couldn’t figure out how to use it.” Instead of asking for help, they choose to remain silent and ignore the process completely. If questioned further about their silence, they would probably protest that they “didn’t have the time” to ask the necessary questions. More often than not, that response is simply not true. They may simply decide to resist engaging in the process by resorting to alleged ignorance, coupled with a comfortable silence in the hope that you will forget about the entire issue.
These are a few examples of objections that you may hear when you introduce a new process. Normally, these objections do not reflect real issues. The best approach to implementing a new process is to anticipate the objections and short-circuit them ahead of time. To do that, we must understand the real issues. More often than not, fear of change is the real issue. An effective manager will focus his or her attention on those fears instead of superficial objections.
“ THE UNSPOKEN PROBLEMS”
Change terrorizes everyone. People take comfort in knowing what to expect.
When faced with the unknown, we become anxious, hostile and sometimes even dysfunctional because our routines have been changed.
Introducing a new process demonstrates that the current process is not working well. Since the salespeople themselves developed most current processes, the new process may be interpreted as a rejection of their efforts. The unspoken message may be that they haven’t per¬formed well. Any rejection of their work is usually perceived as a rejection of them.
Change gives everyone an opportunity to learn new methods for doing things. As far as most people who have adopted a routine are concerned, this opportunity will result in a perception of failure. As a result, the person may not be motivated to learn something new and settle for what they have and understand.
Loss of Control
Few things are more terrifying than losing control of your routine. Losing that feeling of control can make some people feel vulnerable and “crazy.” Losing control of a routine can create the sense of being manipulated by some invisible force thereby losing the ability to control your own destiny. Losing control is the equivalent of insanity because “crazy people can’t control themselves.”
As irrational as these fears may be, they are real. You should not address them by merely announcing their existence to your people. Instead, you should keep the knowledge to yourself, and use it as the basis for your method of introducing new processes into the work environment.
Consideration / Concept
Encourages all team players to become “engaged” in the process of change. As you can see, they are not being subjected to change; they are being involved in making changes.
This process “short circuits” “unspoken problems” such as Fear of change, Implied rejection of efforts, Fear of failure, and loss of control that people may conjure up because they have the feeling of being involved with the process of change.
You will have the ability to accomplish ten times more with less effort because you will not be doing all of the tactical work, your team will. Quite frankly, you may find that by delegating the tactical work in this fashion, the quality of the work will be better because certain members of your team may be more skilled at the task assigned to them than you are.
The concept of taking a “Survey” or getting “Feedback” on the front end of a project is an incredibly powerful strategy. The message you send the team when this strategy is implemented is that you value their opinion, experience, point of view and professionalism.
If the results from your survey are way off base, you have opened the door for education.
Let’s say that you “survey” your salespeople on the price range structure and they give you some ridiculously LOW numbers. Ask for evidence supporting their opinion. Find out what they based those opinions on.
Demonstrate your willingness to listen to their feedback and take them seriously. That’s not to say you should follow their suggestion. Use this information to get a “feel” for where they are.
Do some market research by collecting competitive bids and acquire hard evidence to support your decision NOT to lower prices that much. Focus your explanation on the value-added items included in your pricing structures that no one else in your market offers.
Be prepared to SELL your SALESPEOPLE.
As always, while managing change, stay away from statements or references to “poor performance or Low profits” to justify your decision. (Review Managing Change for more information about this issue). Delegation
Put it in writing
You should never delegate verbally.
Verbal delegation provides no historical record of what was said or of what tasks were assigned. If human memory were perfect, there would be no need to write anything down. Even where memory does not fail, written delegation avoids “convenient forgetfulness.”
Any manager using a verbal style of delegation could not possibly evaluate the results without a great deal of tension-filled interaction with his or her subordinate (Micro-Management), in which both attempt to reconstruct the past. The verbal style of delegation could result in a “war of words” in an attempt to recall who said what and when what was to be accomplished how.
Don’t take it back
Whenever someone has trouble completing a task, resist the urge to “take back” the task by doing the work your-self. By taking the task back, you’re wasting your time, de-motivating the team and failing to deal with the real problem. Learning can only be achieved by doing.
Expect a veritable avalanche of mistakes at first. Expect mistakes you never dreamed anyone would ever make. Since all people are different, all people will make different types of mistakes.
Mistakes will happen.
That should cause you to make a critical judgment – whether those mistakes are just “part of the game,” if they suggest problems with the process being implemented or behavioral problems with the employee.