Author: Randy Trelka (page 1 of 17)

Lose the Battles But Win the War

Fighting All Battles

When I was a young supervisor I wanted to fight battles. Every problem that needed to be solved I saw as a battle to win. Being focused on winning these little battles that it made me short-sighted. I did not see the long game and because of it, I damaged relationships and my reputations.

A lot of new supervisors and managers run into this problem. And if truth be told, I still struggle with it from time to time. But I have gotten better at understanding the long game and have become better focused on winning the war. In other words – winning hearts and minds.

Understand the Long-Term Goals

To put it another way, problems come and go. We need to keep them in focus and in scope. Understanding what the long-term goals are can help. Focusing on where you want to be and what the ideal situation looks like with all concerned parties in mind is the way to win the war.

Not every problem needs to be solved. And not every problem needs to be solved to your satisfaction. Sometimes we must let others win to build and grow relationships.

This doesn’t mean that we sacrifice things that are important to us. It just means that we need to prioritize what things are important and which are just nice to have. The nice to have things we can live without meaning we can let them go allowing others to get some things they want.

What is Important?

Equally important is understanding what things are important to our long-term success, and the success of the team, organization, etc., can help us to focus on what matters and let go of things that don’t matter.

By changing our focus from picking battles to winning the war we open our view to what’s good for us to what is good for the organization. We become team players. And in this way, we will win more than we lose.

Being picky about what battles you fight shows others that you are willing to compromise. It shows a level of maturity. And it brings more people into your circle of influence.

People want to be around a winner. Winners understand the importance of other people to their success. It is only by being able to engage, inspire, and work with others that we can become winners.

Questions to ask when determining the problem resolution path:

1. What will be the long-term effects of your problem resolution?
2. Consider the cost-benefit of the problem resolution?
3. What are the relational costs of the problem resolution?
4. How will the resolution benefit the organization?
5. Does the resolution leave other people whole?
6. Do alternative solutions exist that may lead to better outcomes?

Lose a Battle to Save a Relationship

Ultimately, whatever path you decide to take when dealing with a problem make sure you understand all the ramifications before acting. Once you damage relationships it can be hard to repair them. Make sure that you have clearly defined the problem, the relationships involved, the effects of certain actions, and what the long-term consequences of your actions are.

Keep the long-term results in mind. What you do today can have negative consequences that can take years to overcome. Better to move slowly and lose a battle than to lose the war and your career.

Playing Favorites – And Why Sometimes It’s Alright

Do you play favorites with your employees?

Playing favorites might not be as bad a thing as you think. Often, we get told that we need to treat all employees the same. And on the surface, that seems like the right and sensible thing to do. But that is not always the case.

Let’s take two different scenarios

Scenario One:

You have two employees. Employee A is always picking up extra hours, stays late, takes on additional responsibilities without complaining. This is your superstar. Not a brown nose, just a hard worker willing to do whatever is required and with a positive attitude.

Employee B is always complaining. This employee has an attitude and complains anytime they are asked to do anything that is outside of their job scope. This employee doesn’t do anything wrong, but they don’t do anything extra. Employee B does everything that is expected and no more.

Scenario Two:

Employee A is a friend of yours. Everybody likes them. This person does just as much work as everybody else. Maybe on occasion, they do a little extra because your buddies and they like you personally.

Employee B is a person who has a personality that doesn’t mix with yours. You’re not unfriendly with this person but you don’t go out of your way to talk to them. This person doesn’t do anything wrong, they are good at their job, and they are occasionally willing to pick up additional job duties.

Now let’s suppose that in each of the two scenarios both employees want a certain day off and the only one can have it. How do you choose?

I would argue that in scenario one it is o.k. to play favorites and give the day off to the employee who has done more work, has a better attitude, and takes on additional responsibilities.

In scenario two it isn’t so clear-cut. In this case playing favorites by rewarding the person you like more with the day off would be unethical. Instead, you need to weigh the merits of each employee and determine who will get it either based on equivalent contributions or use a non-biased method for determining who will get it when all else is equal.

Not Black and White

Playing favorites with employees on the surface isn’t always as black and white as it would initially seem. There are times where employees have earned preferential treatment through their own hard work and initiative. And there are times when employee’s efforts are evenly weighted and the only thing separating them are personal factors.

Where there is no clear separation in effort and attitude favoritism is not just unfair, it is unethical.

In situations where there is a clear difference in effort and attitude playing favorites can set up an incentive structure whereby employees are rewarded for going above and beyond. You just need to make sure that you are being fair about how you are judging people’s efforts.

A Word of Caution

Caution must be given to how we approach our personal feelings about employees. We need to ensure that our personal friendships don’t color our opinions and lead us to favoritism because of these relationships.

It is best to keep your friendships out of the workplace and hold all employees to the same standards. But if you maintain consistent standards and are judging all employees through the same lens than favoritism can be an ethical motivator.

Use Your Best Judgement

The bottom line is to use your best judgment. Don’t avoid playing favorites to motivate a hardworking employee who is always giving extra just because you are afraid of playing favorites. Be consistent in your expectations and how you reward your employees.

Use caution when giving additional benefits and favors. Make sure that you are not doing it out of personal feelings and friendships. Reward good workers even if you don’t personally connect with them.

Playing favorites, when done ethically and fairly, can create incentives that encourage employees to go above and beyond.

Still looking for more help than sign up today and receive my free EBook – How to Succeed as a Manager or Supervisor. Also, receive a free 45-minute coaching session (A $100 Value) for a limited time. Just sign up for my email list below or go here for more details.

 

Face-Time: The Best Way to Get the Best Out of Your Team

Face-time is what most of our employees want. You may not believe it but if we aren’t present to our employees it shows a lack of concern. Our employees want to know that we care. They want us to be available to offer support for the problems they face.

When you hide out in your office you aren’t involved with their problems and concerns. On the other hand, being visible and present shows that you are interested in the problems your people are dealing with.

Engage Your People by Getting in Front of Them

But its more than just being visible. Face-time also means that you are taking time to engage your people.

If they see you walking around watching but you never talk to them they will assume that you are stalking. Taking the time to engage them shows concern and puts them at ease. By taking the time to talk to them you ensure them that you do not have ulterior motives.

Nobody likes a micro-manager. So, be sure that when you are getting face-time you are also talking to people. Have a conversation with your people. It doesn’t take much. Ask them how things are going at home or what kind of hobbies they are involved in.

Taking time to get to know the people we manage serves many purposes:
  • It shows that we care about the person, not just the employee
  • It allows you to find out what their interests are, so you can find areas of common interest that will allow you to connect
  • Finding out a person’s interest can give you an idea of what motivates them
  • A conversation builds relationships and trust
Other Benefits of Getting in Front of Your Team

Face-time also allows you to get a look at what kinds of obstacles and struggles your people are facing. If you are always in our office, you can’t know what the day-to-day problems are that are challenging your team.

A manager who is disconnected from the realities of the team is set up to fail.

You must be engaged with the work that your people are doing. This doesn’t mean you need to do the work, you only need to have knowledge of the challenges, so you can help implement plans to overcome them.

So how do you ensure that you are getting face-time?

Set a timer or a schedule reminder on your calendar. This way even if you get caught up in something it will remind you to take a break and get involved with your team.

Have a trusted team member give you reminders to take a break. If you have a strong team member you trust you can have them ensure that you are getting the right amount of face-time. They can also let you know where your attention is most needed. Make sure this person is somebody who has a good working relationship with the rest of the team.

Anytime you are between projects or meetings make a round through the work area. Stop and visit with different people each time you go through. Look for positive things your people are doing and comment on it. When you see someone struggling with something inquire as to what the problem is and what you can do to help.

Make sure that you are getting out among your people often enough to engage them. Just don’t overdo it – you don’t want to smother them. Be present, don’t be overbearing.

Be a Manager People Want to Engage With

If you are managing correctly then your people want face-time with you. They want you to be engaged with them. Engaging your people is essential to building a team environment. It builds trust and relationships. The conversations that come out of this face-time will give you insights into what struggles your people face and what things motivate them.

Don’t be a manager who hides in their office and only comes out when things are going wrong. Get out where the action is and be a part of what your team is doing. Be the face of your team by getting in front of your team.

For more team building skills sign up for my free coaching offer here.

Not My Fault, It’s Somebody Elses

But It’s Not My Fault Because…

Do you have an employee who never accepts fault for anything? Does that person always try to change the conversation with the purpose of putting the focus on the faults of others? These employees try to use deflection to ensure the conversation doesn’t focus on their actions.

This is one of the more maddening problems that a manager or supervisor can face. We are trying to get the employee to see their error and then get them to improve on it.

I have written about the problem of employees who won’t accept accountability before here and the same rules apply. But my focus in this post is to dig a little deeper into the problem of those who want to focus on other people’s actions.

The Purpose of Addressing Fault

If as managers and supervisors we are acting correctly the focus of our actions should be on identifying the actions that are causing the problem and addressing them. The focus should not be about attacking the person or viewing at a personality issue.

Remember, you can’t change people. Your focus should be on establishing what the requirements of the job are and then holding people accountable for their actions. It shouldn’t matter if you like them on a personal level or not.

The Underlying Issue is Insecurity

Generally, when an employee is unwilling to accept fault it is due to some insecurity on their part. They may feel deficient in their skills or knowledge. Or perhaps they feel that their manager or supervisor has a negative opinion of them. There may also be underlying team friction that is causing their defensiveness.

Identifying the source of the employee’s insecurity may be important to get them to accept fault and then work on correction. If you understand why a person is reacting the way they are you can develop a strategy that will address the issue in a positive and productive manner.

Not understanding the underlying causes will only lead to stress and conflict.

Addressing the Cause not the Person

When dealing with a person who won’t accept fault the first, and most important thing is to not lose your cool. Yes, they drive you nuts but don’t buy into it. They succeed when you lose your cool because it takes the focus off the problem.
Always keep the conversation focused on the problem, on the actions of the person. Avoid letting personality enter the discussion. Keep focused on actions – what did or didn’t happen.

If the conversation turns to the actions of others don’t take the bait. This is what they want. Say, “I understand there may be other circumstances or reasons but the only thing you can control is your actions” or “I will deal with those issues with those individuals but I want to talk about how you can improve”.

Keep the focus on helping the individual to improve. Don’t focus on punitive or disciplinary action unless you are at a point where it is necessary.

Your goal should always be about helping your people improve. When your people do well, your team does well, and the organization does well.

The most problematic employee will respond in a positive manner if they truly believe their manager or supervisor has their best interest in mind.

As the Manager or Supervisor, You Need to Direct the Conversation

As the manager or supervisor, it is your job to ensure that the conversation focuses on the correct things. You must have the emotional intelligence and the skill to turn the conversation to a productive end. You do this by keeping the focus on the actions that are in the employee’s control.

Help them to understand that what is in their best interest is focusing on their own actions. Your concern needs to be about helping them to succeed. If you can get them to focus on their actions and keep the conversation their you will demonstrate your concern for their success.

At the end of the day hold them accountable. Do not let them redirect fault. Help them understand how it is hurting them personally and how correcting the problem will benefit them personally. Help them understand that you have their best interest in mind – you want them to succeed. Don’t focus on personalities. Focus on actions.

 

What is Accountability – Podcast Episode 2

What is accountability?

In this podcast, we flesh out in greater detail what accountability is and how to maintain it in a way that positively engages your team. Check out my blog post on accountability that is a companion piece to this podcast.

In my blog post and podcast, I dispel the myth that accountability is the same as discipline. Further, I assert that discipline is not the first step in accountability, but is the last action that should be considered.

Why is this important?

There are too many managers who want to attack problems. They see every problem as a nail and they are hammers. Because of this, they fail to achieve true accountability and destroy trust with their team.

Today, people need to be engaged in a positive manner. Discipline is often used to cover up for the failures of the manager. Accountability starts with good communication. It starts with establishing what the end goal of the team’s action is.

What will you learn?

You will learn what the goal of accountability is. What actions are important for you to ensure your people are being held accountable. And, you will learn tips and strategies for maintaining accountability. You will also learn why discipline should not be the primary focus of accountability strategies.

Accountability is About Correction not Discipline

Accountability Not Blame

Accountability is at the heart of leading and managing people. It is about holding people to a standard and then ensuring that they are maintaining that standard. What it should not be about is blaming people and punishing them.

Holding people accountable for their work and addressing underlying issues that are the cause of performance deficiencies should be the goal of a manager or supervisor. Blame assignment should not be a part of this process. And in most cases, the first response shouldn’t be about discipline. Instead, you should be looking for the root cause of the problem, assigning responsibility, and then working with the employee to correct the cause.

Too often managers and supervisors shoot from the hip when addressing performance issues. Instead of taking the time to gather facts and think about what the long-term consequences of their actions are, or what they are looking to achieve, they just jump into blame and punish mode.

When this happens, it serves the opposite purpose of what should be the intended outcome. The manager’s or supervisor’s goal should be the discovery of the root cause of the performance deficiency and then working with the employee to resolve it. Improvement of the individual’s performance should be the focus.

The Goal of Accountability

The purpose of holding people accountable isn’t the same as discipline. Accountability is about establishing performance expectations, communicating them, and helping employees understand where they are falling short. Correction of deficiencies and improvement of performance are the key.

Accountability is not discipline. Discipline may become part of the process after you have performed the other steps necessary to address root cause and help the employee improve performance, but it should not be the focus.

Begin With the End in Mind

Anytime a manager or supervisor is addressing a performance issue they should be thinking about what the end goal is. What does the ideal state of performance look like and how does it differ from the current state. But you also need to consider what the goal is with your relationship with the employee and their relationship with the team. If you have read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you will recognize this as Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind.

So often we are operating from a state of putting out fires that we don’t always take the time to really think about what the end goal is and what affect our actions are having on individuals in our organization and our team.

When addressing performance issues, the key is to identify what you hope to achieve in the correction of the problem. And to make sure that those actions are in line with overall company and team goals and objectives.

In most cases, the end goal is to maximize efficiencies to ensure profitability. To accomplish this, you need to motivate your employees to want to perform to a level that meets these objectives. Your accountability objectives should be focused on the best way to improve employee performance by engaging the employee in the solution and motivating them to want to correct it.

Placing blame does not motivate people. Being concerned about them and their performance does. Having a genuine concern for the success of the individual, and framing the problem resolution in that light will motivate much more than placing blame.

An Accountability Strategy

When accessing your accountability strategy consider the following:

  • What is the end state that is desired?
  • What actions can I take to try to reach this end state?
  • How will the employee perceive your actions?
  • In what way will your actions affect the team?
  • How will your actions help reach organizational goals?
  • What is the best way to identify the root cause of the problem?
  • How can I help the employee improve their performance?

Accountability is about setting clear expectations, goals, and consequences (both positive and negative). The goal is to help employees improve their performance with the end goal of meeting organizational objects. It is not about placing blame but is about identifying the root cause of performance problems and correcting them with the end in mind.

Why I Want You to Succeed as a Manager or a Supervisor – Podcast Episode 1

Podcast Episode 1

I want you to succeed as a manager or supervisor.

When I started out as a supervisor I had no clue what I was doing. I lacked the people skills necessary to be successful. Because of this, I experienced anxiety and depression. Looking around I didn’t have a lot of good role models to help me. Most of my fellow managers and supervisors were of the old-school variety. Those techniques no longer worked in the changing work environment that I found myself in.

I had to learn and adapt my management style to meet the needs of the workforce I was tasked to lead if I wanted to succeed. It took a lot of hard work, discipline, and study.  Having a mentor to talk to and bounce ideas off would have made the work much easier and enjoyable.

What this Podcast is about

This podcast is about helping managers and supervisors learn better ways to lead people. I want to help you learn how to succeed in leading people. And even though I don’t necessarily have all the answers to every problem, I hope to be able to challenge the way you think about these problems and get you thinking in new and creative ways.

My goal is to be your online mentor, coach, and fellow traveler in your career journey. I want to help you make your workplace an enjoyable place where both your employees and you thrive.

We spend 80 percent of our week at work. This shouldn’t be something we dread. People can be difficult to deal with. At the end of the day, the only thing that you have control over is yourself. If you take accountability for your thoughts and actions you can create a work environment that you will be excited about. People aren’t the problem, we are.

The Challenge

I challenge you to reconsider everything you think you know about being a manager and supervisor. Question how you view your people, your organization, and yourself. Challenge yourself to let go of what you can’t control and focus on what you can.

Join me and let’s learn together how to take ownership of our careers.

Scarcity in Management and Supervision

What is a scarcity mentality and how does it related to management and supervision?

A scarcity mentality is a belief that there is a limited supply of some resource. It is a belief that where one person gains another must lose. I have seen a lot of supervisors and managers who demonstrate a scarcity mentality when it comes to giving praise and recognizing the contributions of others. These managers feel threatened due to their own insecurities.

Do you believe that if somebody else comes up with a better idea or receives the recognition that it diminishes your contributions?

There is a level of emotional insecurity that belies the belief that when someone benefits somebody else loses.

If you are secure in your abilities and contributions then you should never feel threatened when somebody else achieves something that exceeds what you have contributed.

The scarcity mentality is destructive not just to the individual manager or supervisor but also to the team. Believing that another’s gain is a loss puts you in a competitive situation with your fellow managers and subordinates that is damaging to relationships and team cohesion.

If you believe that to get ahead you need to take ownership for all good ideas you will stifle your team. It will cause them to withdraw and not contribute. An atmosphere of distrust will develop that will undermine your ability to lead effectively.

How do you overcome a scarcity mentality?

First, you need to realize that there isn’t a limited amount of recognition that is available. The ability to recognize and to be recognized is unlimited. Just because somebody else has a good idea doesn’t mean it takes anything away from you.

Also, you need to recognize that if somebody on your team comes up with a great idea or innovation it will benefit everybody on the team including you.

Second, embrace and show support for those who bring innovative ideas to the team. As a leader, you will get more recognition if you lead a team that continually contributes innovated ideas no matter who comes up with them. Leaders who encourage and recognize innovation will succeed far more than those who do not.

Third, understand that one good idea generally leads to another good idea. Instead of a lack of something, there is a true abundance. You can build off the ideas of others to come up with something even more beneficial. Remember to give credit to the originator of the idea that you used as your jumping off point.

Finally, get over yourself. Put your own ego aside. Have a genuine appreciation for the ideas others bring to the team. Being part of an engaged team that is trying to improve the organization should be exciting. Take it as a badge of honor that you have people working with you who care enough to share their ideas. Be a manager or supervisor that inspires people by recognizing their good ideas and contributions.

A scarcity mentality only creates division, destructive competition, and distrust. It leads to people pulling back and not contributing to the greater success of the team.

Let go of your insecurities and realize that the world is infinitely abundant. We all have something to contribute and there is no limit to the amount of recognition that is available. By celebrating the contributions of others, we create a workplace that inspires and encourages innovation.

Recognize that you are abundant, your workplace is abundant, and the world we live in is abundant. What is good for others is good for you and vice versa. Be thankful for others. Their contributions will lead to your success if you open yourself to the possibilities of abundance.

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