When Leaders Disappoint

How do you handle decisions that you know will disappoint some of your people? Don’t gravitate toward that awful cliché, “it’s business, not personal”, because often, it is personal. It’s personal when it affects someone’s career, compensation, or how others perceive them based on assignments (organizational prestige).

The key to managing disappointment in others is based in your own awareness. Be aware of the impact of your decisions on your employees. Anticipate their reactions. Use your reservoir of emotional intelligence to do damage control.

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Note to Bad Bosses: “Back Off!”

Terrorizing your employees is not a great engagement strategy. As an enlightened subscriber to Executive Insight, you may think, “Of course it isn’t – who would do that?” I’m here to tell you that these bosses abound in the work place (and I’m certain that you’ve come across at least a few).

They’re not especially interested in emotional intelligence or smart leadership strategies or developing their people. They focus on driving revenue and think the bottom line can be built on the backs of employees who comply with their demands.

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What’s Behind the Answer?

You’re gathering information for a project and ask several employees for input. They give you the information that you requested, and you integrate their responses into your project presentation.

But what happens if you make a decision based on that information and your conclusion is wrong? You may go back to the employees in search of clarification (“I thought you said x”) and it turns out that yes, they said “x”, but “y” is also integral to the equation.

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Are You Rewarding the Right Behavior?

Are your employees doing the job that they’re paid to do? Some employees take leeway by spending time doing things that may be valuable but interfere with the job they’re supposed to be doing. They get praised for the additional work, but get away with not being accountable for what they neglect.

Consider these examples:

+ The designer who loves the creative process so much, but typically spends two or more times the hours than what was budgeted.

+ The client manager who spends inordinate time with clients that are being undercharged.

+ The project coordinator who prefers schmoozing with clients and neglects his paperwork and ultimately delays billing.

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Manage Your Time By Managing Your Mind

So many people are stressed by massive to do lists and not enough time to complete the important tasks. Everyone knows how to manage time….but….often it just doesn’t happen. It’s not because you don’t know how; it’s because you don’t make it happen.

When you manage a staff that has multiple moving targets (including those massive to do lists), support them by helping them focus and stay focused. Implementation happens much more effectively when people concentrate.

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The Curse of Silos

Do your departments communicate well with each other? Do they know each other’s work product? Challenges? Successes?

I had an aggravating experience trying to do a simple upgrade of a software service. I was on several phone calls for 2-1/2 hours to implement something that I thought was straightforward.

I concluded, however, that the reason it turned into such a production was because the upgrade resided in a different department and the two departments don’t talk to each other.

Same product, different level of service. Horrible communication.

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Two-Fisted Feedback

A colleague shared an anecdote about a leader in his firm who gives appreciative feedback to his staff, then turns around and tells peers that these employees aren’t doing their jobs. One of these employees found out about this two-fisted approach and was furious.

We spend considerable time espousing the importance of expressing appreciation (among other things), but it’s intolerable if someone says something nice – only because it’s the right thing to do – then says the opposite to another leader.

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“Not My Job!”

Several of my clients lament that their employees don’t understand or know what is expected from them. Strangely, this isn’t unusual. The job description that guides new employees often does not clarify what is expected or how they will be evaluated. Indeed, over time job descriptions become obsolete as jobs change and evolve.

You should have two documents for each position. One captures roles and responsibilities. It details the various components of a job and identifies specific things that the employee is responsible for. Basically, it breaks down the job and the accountabilities that belong to it.

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When Superior Performers Slip

Are you fortunate to have superior performers reporting to you? These are employees at the top of their game who always get the job done, who you can rely on for anything, and who your clients love because they’re just that good.

Until they slip.

This happens periodically and when it does, it’s especially painful because you’re not expecting it. The first episode might be when you discover a major error. The next time could be when a deadline flies by and he missed it. And another time might be when you receive a call from a client complaining about his attitude.

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