Dear God, Please Help Them to Change.

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:

  1. An apology
  2. Honest ownership of the dysfunction
  3. Agreement to start over
  4. 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.

Check-up:

  1. Are you assuming people know what you are unhappy about?
  2. Are you expecting those around you to read your mind or to interpret the world through your eyes?
  3. Have you been honest enough to state your desires with emotional detachment (minus the drama)?
  4. Have you remembered that your happiness is not dependent upon what others do but upon your own courage to move forward?
  5. Do you set contingencies in order to avoid indigestion and regression when things go sideways?

Image result for accountability quotes

Image result for accountability quotes

The Boss That Didn’t See

A friend recently told me her boss always said hello to his employees every morning, asking them about their families and vacations, etc., but he never really listened to their replies, and he was good at turning everything into a story about himself.

Because I work as a management consultant, I can bet this boss congratulates himself regularly for talking to his employees, when, in fact, the employees would gladly forgo the stories about his kids and travels for a boss that cared enough to see them as his equals.

boss

(By the way, not just bosses are subject to this malady.)

Two-Minute Tune-Up 3.31.12 Boss Talk

I had a sudden revelation this week. 

Fourteen years after leaving the restaurant business, I finally fully appreciate the difficulty my bosses had with me. Those I thought to be heartless money-grubbers who had lost touch with reality (especially when they demanded better performance from me), have turned out to be decent human beings who were merely looking for leaders and hoping that I would rise above the crowd.

How much easier my life would have been had I acknowledged this and given them the benefit of a doubt instead of insisting on the vilification of “the boss.”

Life lesson: If doors of opportunity do not swing open for us, it may because we have bolted them from the inside.