A manager I know has a very inspiring poster on his door about leadership and accountability. It is obvious that he knows the value of these qualities.
It is also obvious that he avoids conflict.
Outside his door, the employees fester with discontent, confusion, drama, and unhealthy competition. Turnover is high. Energy is low.
He hopes that someday things will improve.
He doesn’t know that it is his move.
He also doesn’t know that once he sets clear boundaries, has the courage to quit making excuses, and to follow up tenaciously with coaching and development plans, his fear of conflict will go away.
Those things that we complain about, that keep us awake at night, that drain our energy during the day are actually in our hands to fix. Here is the formula:
- An apology
- Honest ownership of the dysfunction
- Agreement to start over
- Setting a when-things-fall-apart contingency
For the manager to his employees, it might sound like this:
“I owe you an apology. I have failed you by not communicating my expectations clearly and by failing to deal with things as they came up. Can we start over? Here is my specific wish-list. What is yours? Let’s talk again in a few days, see how we are doing, and recalibrate if necessary.”
Sometimes, the relationship will not work despite our best efforts, but we will never know if it could have been fixed if we don’t take responsibility for our part first.
- Are you assuming people know what you are unhappy about?
- Are you expecting those around you to read your mind or to interpret the world through your eyes?
- Have you been honest enough to state your desires with emotional detachment (minus the drama)?
- Have you remembered that your happiness is not dependent upon what others do but upon your own courage to move forward?
- Do you set contingencies in order to avoid indigestion and regression when things go sideways?