I know, employees are difficult.
Employees can be unreasonable, childish, difficult, selfish, short-sighted, and stubborn. But without them, your employer wouldn’t need you. The same adjectives could also be used to describe managers and supervisors.
Human beings, in general, are difficult and unreasonable. We all want what is best for us, not necessarily what is best for others. So we need to look past the negatives that other people bring to an organization and start to focus on what we can do to have a positive impact on these fellow human beings in order to benefit the overall team.
Nobody says you have to love everybody. That is reserved for a select group of people within your circle of influence. You don’t even have to hang out with them after work. But you do need to find the positive in each person you deal with so that you can get the best out of each team member.
What keeps you from seeing the positive and finding a way to like the most difficult of people? You. Because the only thing that you have any control over is yourself. When leading a diverse group of people it is important to put your own ego aside. A focus on self will never inspire others. It will never allow you to see the good in others.
Everybody has some good characteristics. It can be difficult to see when our emotions are running hot, but it is out there. You just need to dig deep sometimes and get past your own feelings to see the truth.
Managers and supervisor, if they are going to be successful leaders, need to master their own emotions and see past their own limitations.
In order to master your emotions and see the best in others you need to understand one truth – the only thing in this world you have control over are your own thoughts and actions. That is it. You control nothing else.
And in relation to only having control of self is the fact that the only place we are able to act is in the present. It is the only time that people can implement change. The past is dead and the future in unknown. We cannot affect the past and we can only plan for an uncertain future. So stop dwelling on what has happened or what will be. Live in the now and engage people in the now.
Don’t hold on to the past or make assumptions about a person’s ability to change. Everybody is able to change it is just a matter of whether or not they want to. Sometimes all it takes is the right motivation to get them to change.
Yelling, screaming, and intimidation is not a good strategy to inspire people to embrace change.
The more you push people and back them into a corner, the more they will resist change. This is just part of human nature. When we feel threatened we turn to a defensive mode. This means we justify our position and dig into that position. Once this happens there is no hope to get buy in.
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, in his Welch Way leadership program brings up the idea of WIFM – what’s in it for me – as a consideration for getting buy-in to changes. This is what motivates your employees. And it is what you have to figure out if you’re going to get them to buy into your plans.
Understanding employee motivation from a neutral, non-judgemental standpoint is essential to getting the best out of people. You have to free yourself from your own prejudices and ideas of what is right and wrong. Instead, focus on seeing things through the lens of the employees you manage. Then you can structure a plan that will meet their needs, gaining their buy-in, so you can meet the organization’s needs.
So instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your people, the elements of human nature that you can’t control, focus on finding out what their strengths are and what motivates them. Try liking your people. You might just find that there is more good than bad in them.