Thursday, February 10, 2011

Better than John Maxwell

(cited from Chapter 6 of "On People Management" by Mary Kay)

Criticism should be directed at what's wrong - not at who's wrong!

It must be done tactfully - otherwise your criticism will be destructive. I feel that a manager should be able to tell someone when something is wrong without bruising an ego in the process.

When someone enters my office, it is important that I create an atmosphere conducive to communication. And I find that this is most easily accomplished when I remove the physical barrier of an office desk. that desk represents authority. it tells the person sitting on the other side that I am in a position to tell him what he MUST do. I'd rather come across as a friend and co-worker - not a "the boss." And so we sit on a comfortable sofa and discuss our business in a more relaxed environment.

Be tender and tough
I believe that it's okay for a manager to develop a close relationship wit his or her employees. In fact, I dont think its natural for people who continually work together to always be "on ceremony" - always maintaining a formal employer-employee relationship. I dont think this kind of atmosphere is conducive to maximum productivity. For generations, it has been preached to us that "familiarity breeds contempt." The military is a good example, with its codes that prohibits officers from fraternizing with enlisted personnel. Such attitudes often spill over into workplace - and, frankly, I do not personally believe they're appropriate. Drawing a line between you and the other person inhibits good working relationships, particularly whenever it's necessary to have a heart-to-heart talk with him.

At the same time, managers must be strong and speak straightforwardly. if someone 's work is unsatisfactory, you cant skirt the issue - you must communicate your feelings. It calls for being simultaneously tender and tough. i.e. you've got to maintain your manger role, but you also must have empathy.

Never give criticism without praise
Never giving criticism without praise is a strict rule for me. No matter what you are criticizing, you must find something good to say - both BEFORE and AFTER. This is what's known as the "SANDWICH TECHNIQUE".

Criticize the act, not the person. And try to praise in the beginning and then again after discussing the problem. Also strive to end on a friendly note. By handling the problem this way, you dont subject people to harsh criticism or provoke anger.

I've seen some managers operate on the theory that when they're angry about something, they should criticize the person - and let him know exactly how they feel about his actions. this school of thought proposes that you should express your emotions - let the other person have it, no punches pulled. After the manger has had sufficient time to vent his anger, he's supposed to end it with a word of praise - and theoretically everything will be okay again. While some management consultants advocate this technique. I cannot condone it. A person who is treated in this manner will be so shaken by harsh criticism that he'll never hear the praise, which is so obviously thrown in as an afterthought. this kind of criticism is destructive - not constructive.

I believe that all of us have fragile egos and that we respond much better to praise than to criticism. A woman, for instance, can buy a new dress that she falls in love with, but let her hear one bit of criticism and she'll never wear it again.

Never give criticism in front of others
It's inexcusable for a manger to chastise someone in the presence of others. Yet I've seen managers who while addressing a group will single out one person for criticism. I cant imagine anything more demoralizing.

It's not only self-defeating to criticize someone in front of others, it's also downright cruel... A plant manager, for eg, shhould never berate a foreman in front of assembly-line workers.

Not only does such action create bitter resentment, but everyone present becomes embarrassed and insecure. A "will I be next?" atmosphere is created, everyone feels threatened, and productivity suffers. eg. workers may have begun to question the ability of their foreman, thereby reducing his effectiveness as a manager. Moreover, the foreman's self-esteem would have been badly bruised, making him unsure and hesitant... Rather than publicly attacking the foreman, the manager should have privately discussed the issue. I think this would have enhanced the probability of solving a legitimate production problem and it would have preserve the morale of both the foremen and his workers. All parties, including the company, would have then profited.

A good people manager will never put someone down; not only it is nonproductive - it's counterproductive.

When you approach problems, first by placing yourself in the other person's shoes, and then by working together to solve the problem - you dont come across as being a harsh critic. You become a helpful friend. The person feels he has an ally who's helping him solve his problem. When you identify this as your position, your new friend will not only be grateful; he will do his best not to let you down.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm yet to find a boss like this... but, moreover, I want to be a boss like this. Learning. I will be a greater leader.

    To leaders, not only read John Maxwell. (I have read and own many Maxwell book.) Read this! Its small and thin, but it has substance.


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