Friday, May 6, 2011

Oh my God, my top manager just resigned !! I had no idea, I thought everything was great!!!. What went wrong?..

We hear this alot dont we ? it is not a company specific problem but rather a manager specific one. Somehow managers are unable to connect with their team members to really understand;
  • What are they working on?
  • Are they learning?
  • How are they developing themselves, personally and also professionaly?
  • Do they "LOVE" their job? it is not Do they "LIKE" the word is "LOVE"
we can find so many of these questions, but those above are the core ones..And simply you cannot get these questions answered by asking " HOW IS IT GOING ?" the answer would be "It is great, it is OK" in almost most cases. Yes, the problem is the managers who don't ask the right question. In the absence of right questions the managers will go with what they hear; like "it is great", "OK", "it is all right".. and they even use this like "Didn't you say, everything is ok". The issue is creating the environment and the atmosphere for employees to share their problems, breakdowns and challenges and guess who is responsible for that? Yes, MANAGERS.

If a manager, meets regularly with the team members and asks;
  • Tell me what you have learned today, this week?
  • Tell me how you have improved personally and professionally?
  • Tell me what was challenging for you and how did you handle it?
  • Tell me something you did and you are really proud of?
  • Tell me how the things you have done helps you for your future career and personal goals?
they will get the right answers, these are the right questions, and they cannot be answered by just saying "It is OK" or "It is all right".
The answers will give you clues. If the person hasn't learned anything, hasn't acquired any skill personally and prefessionally. And if the person cannot even come up with some successes and accomplishments, you can be sure that the person is not happy at his/her job and don't be suprsised if they leave.

Management is the art of understanding and reading clues. You must pay attention to words, signs, body language, reactions everything. These will give you clues to initiate the conversation which again must include the right questions...There is a difference between asking "Are you OK?" versus "I see you quiet, tell me how you feel? ", the former could be answered as simply as "Yes OK" but the latter is an open ended one. If you have created a comfortable environment with your team member, they will share their frustrations and challenges knowing that you will be supporting them. However if you are ignorant to these signs and havent created such an environment, please be prepared to have suprises..So overall, if you FAIL to ASK right questions, you are simply ASKing to FAIL your relationship with your team member.

It sounds so easy to do, but then why do we keep hearing the same suprises over and over again from the managers. It is again easy to answer, with the pace of the business, isssues and challenges, we ignore these clues, we stop listening and as a result we dont ask the right questions. This creates a perfect platform for an unhappy employee. Some employees take the initiative to openly discuss the problem, however most are hesitant and dont simply due to lack of open relationship with their managers, again the environment to share just doesnt exist.

What should you do to avoid such surprises?

You must be disciplined to;
  • Schedule regular one on one status update meetings (minimum once a month)
  • LISTEN to spoken and unspoken clues generously (try to see from their point of view, not yours...)
  • ASK the RIGHT questions
  • LISTEN generously again, do not get defensive, let them express their assessment and feelings, at the end of the day it is their assessment,it could be right or wrong (taken from Dannon Leadership College)
  • HELP to resolve the issue and revisit in your next update meeting
  • ENSURE, they learn personally and professionaly in-line with their future growth goals
If you do these, you will not only build an excellent relationship with your team member, but also create a positive environment to share. Do not worry, these will become so natural to you if you practice for a certain period of time which then means that you are on your way to become a great manager.

Surprises will always happen but with simple listening and asking skills you can minimize these for your team members...When they happen, the next question will be "Do you have a Plan B?" "Do you have a successor for replacement?"...Lets save this for another time..

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