7 out of 10 managers I work with admit that they don’t like managing other people. Like much in life (e.g. losing weight, managing your time, etc.) it sounds easy, and you can “learn” how to do it by reading a book, or taking a class, or getting a coach. However once you start to apply the learning, you discover that all of the daily decisions and unique situations involved in managing others drains your energy and can be very frustrating. Learning is abandoned; coping and instinct take over with mixed results.
Struggle to Manage? Here is the most useful tool I've found.
This article from Fast Company, How To Manage When You Hate Being A
Manager, suggests a premise that I start with in every manager training and coaching session that I do. First, you need to understand your personal management, communication, and decision-making style and behaviors. Then you need to understand the styles of your employees, what they need from you to be motivated and effective. And then you need to adapt and customize your style to each of your employees. The author mentions the Myers Briggs personality instrument, but I tend to use another, the DISC Management Profile, to help managers identify and adapt their styles. Here is an example of this simple but robust tool to help you understand your style and how to adapt it to better direct, delegate, develop and motivate your employees.
Changing Employee Behaviors is Even Harder. Here are 10 tools.
Managing others is often about getting them to change their behaviors or adapting to changing requirements. This is extremely hard, very situational, takes a long time, and requires that you have a varied toolbox. In this EXCELLENT summary of change techniques, Ten Ways to Get People to Change, Morten Hansen makes the point that you can’t use just one or two of these tools to leverage change, but rather you must use them all at the same time:
“These ten principles for changing behaviors are rooted in different
theories that are rarely put together:Sharpen the destination (1-3),
activate social processes (4 and 5), tweak the situation (6 and 7), and
revamp traditional HR levers (8-10). Why don't we see more successful
change in organizations? Because managers use only a few of these
levers. Use them all.”
I especially appreciate his 10th change lever - which many managers/leaders fail to consider because it is often the hardest:
“Hire and fire based on behaviors. The list so far is about changing
the person. But there is also selection: Change the composition of the
team. Get people who embody the desired behaviors and get rid of those
that clearly do not. This is based on theories of role fit: Match strengths
(including your current behaviors) to what the job requires. This also goes
for you: Fire yourself and find a better job if need be.”
While on the subject of getting your people to change, it is important to understand why they are resisting the change in the first place in order to strategize ways around the resistance. Check out this article by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ten Reasons People Resist Change.
I am currently working with 3 different clients on some aspect of setting employee performance or personal development goals and how these will be used to measure and reward employees. While all 3 organizations have slightly different issues they, as well as many of the organizations I have worked with in the past, struggle with setting the right employee performance goals, determining how to measure them, and getting employees to partcipate in setting goals.
It often surprises me how strongly employees at all levels resist setting their goals and resent when goals are set for them. It seems to me that by suggesting and/or participating in your own goal setting you have the opportunity to manage expectations and focus your work or personal development goals on something that is important, relevant, and realistic. If you have one ambitious, career-oriented, bone in your body you do what I describe below already and often unconsciously. Ask yourself: “What is the one really big thing I can do, learn, and show that will get me ____ (a promotion, more money, visibility, or responsibility). Who will I involve in helping me to set or reach this goal? Whose ‘buy-in” do I need? How will I measure the goal and know if I am making progress? How will I make sure my progress and focus is visible to my boss?
Earlier in the year I wrote an article on How to Create an Executable Strategic Plan that described principles from Stephen Covey’s Book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Many of the points I made in the article are just as relevant to personal goal setting, such as: