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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interpretation Please!

Managers with employees often have relationships that seem strange.  This assumes the manager is aware of the fact the staff are acting in a manner that suggest problems.  Actually, as a manager, it is common to be stuck on what your needs and goals are and miss all the signals emanating from the staff.

Take for example a strained relationship where the employee thinks you are like Scrooge.  It is very unlikely anyone on your team will bring this to your attention by a direct statement because people feel that providing negative input can result in loss of their job.  When the team is having problems, they may start to show signs, but you have to be aware of them.  One of the signs might be “passive resistance.”  As a boss, you might interpret passive resistance as the person just not performing the job.  They may be telling you they have a problem by saying they will tackle the job, but then go so slow that you would have been better doing it yourself.

Another indication might be that when you walk through the building, people are not visible.  They may be taking cover because they have problems being around you.  They recognize your interactions with them are so negative they would like to fade into the background.  Possibly, they are coming in late or working hours that lessen the interactions.  Maybe they are taking extended leave beyond what seems normal. 

Your skills must include an interpretive set that helps to evaluate the people you work with.  They do not have to love you, but they should respect and feel they can work with you.  When you miss their indicators, you leave the relationships to chance.  Developing these skills is something that takes time, but will help you in the end. 

Take an example of a work place where office workers come in and quit to take other jobs in less than a year creating a high turnover of employees.  One or two workers departing may not raise your antennae but if this happens repeatedly over several years, you may want to review the issues and determine if it is YOU.  The boss dictates the activities to perform but never establishes a real relationship with the team.   Always working with a demanding boss that underpays you is not a motivational experience.  Scrooge sometimes had a better relationship with Bob Cratchit than some bosses have with their team.

A poor attitude toward the team evolves over time and can eventually creep into the way you behave with your potential partners.  Approaching partners with a “hand full of give me” and offering nothing in return does not lead to a great relationship.  You need your business partners just as you need your team.  None of them are your slaves or furniture there for your abuse.  They are people and want to be treated with respect and to be recognized.

In short, if things seem to be going strangely around you, perhaps you need to say, “Interpreter Please.” This may be someone you trust in the organization or as a mentor that will help you take a close look and understand better what is taking place.  Waiting for the sky to fall is not the way to run the business and morale will suffer.  Remember, there is no I in TEAM.  Treat them as if you need them.

Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon