Topic of the Week Leading By Listening
- Get input.
- Get mentored.
Leading by Listening: Getting the Input You Need to Lead
How many times have you had a boss lecture you about adding value at work? Probably more often than you can count. That's why I found a study by the HayGroup so interesting. They looked at over 3,000 bosses to determine the impact the boss had on the team's performance. 26% of bosses created a high performance work group. 18% energized the people who reported to them. 15% were considered neutral. And get this, 41% were de-motivating. Which reminds me of a conversation that I had earlier this year with my eight year old daughter the day before all the hullabaloo about the Mayan calendar and the end of the world. I asked Frankie what she thought about the world ending and she said, "I have mixed emotions about that."
As sad as the world ending might be, a kid's gotta love some old fashioned fire and brimstone. I also have mixed emotions about bossing today. Sure it's tougher than it's ever been to be a boss. But jeez, 41% de-motivating bosses, we have to do better than that. So here are four strategies for more effective bossing.
Get input. Many bosses like to do evaluations of their employee's performance. But they often are less enthusiastic about being evaluated themselves. Please don't make me go into the whole goose and gander thing. Input is essential. Unfortunately most bosses either don't get feedback from their troops or the company does a 360 evaluations, but the process is all about moving paper and no one sits down after the feedback is collected to discuss how to use the data to get better. If need be do your own survey monkey studies but give people the chance to give you input.
Feed-forward. This concept is borrowed from executive coach Marshall Goldsmith. Instead of beating people up over past mistakes, focus on how you'd like to see behavior change in the future. This is input that can form the basis of a new and improved you. The kind of boss people actually want to work for.
Adapt. This is the key, change. Adapt your management style based on what you learn. I'm not saying that you have to do everything that people recommend, but you have to at least consider it. And here is a tip, if it makes you uncomfortable, you especially need to listen to what you're being told.
Get mentored. Many bosses get too comfortable. You know what they say, the difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. You need to adopt the attitude that you're going to keep learning. Get mentored by someone above you in the chain of command. But don't stop there, also get mentored by front line staff, techies and younger people. You can learn a lot from people all around you.
If you incorporate these strategies into your management style it may feel at times de-motivating and like your world is ending. But it will make you a more effective leader.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via email@example.com.