April 4, 2010

Question: “Over the last 30+ years I have worked my way up the proverbial ladder to an executive management level. I’ve always believed that I am a good manager and care about our people. But it seems in today’s workplace, things have really changed as I seem to have more and more difficulty dealing effectively with our employees. Would you be kind enough to provide me with any ideas, revelations or suggestions?”

Answer: Great question and filled with commonalities of many other Emails I have received, so this should appeal to many within our readership.

The Internet is filled with articles that compare managers vs. leaders including several from me. The workforce in general has changed partly because the workplace has changed. The uncertainty of the economy, security of jobs, lack of opportunities to grow, coupled with misinformation from “the top,” unfulfilled promises and managers who don’t how to lead in unfamiliar/uncertain ground.

1. To begin with, I would encourage you to make certain that you are a good interviewer. One that asks questions that get you use able information and makes the applicants feel comfortable enough to demonstrate his/her passion for their abilities during the interview process. Don’t do all the talking but do make copious notes. Anything that doesn’t sound right or needs clarified ask those follow up questions immediately and not worry about it days later.
2. Don’t ever forget that one shoe doesn’t fit all in the workplace. We are all unique individuals and if you are a good leader/manager you will understand this. If not, it’s area you will need to work on. Improvement of our management and people skills will always be a work in progress.
3. You can resolve many issues by just allowing your workplace to be one that employees want to be involved with on a daily basis. Any working environment, being a safe and comfortable place is paramount to any organizations success.
4. And finally I don’t care how case hardened a manager/leader you have become; you can get more bees with honey than you can with vinegar. So with that said, please don’t ever forget a public “thank you,” please and just letting employees know that without them, life would be difficult, thus demonstrating your appreciation for their contribution(s).

Now I am going to suggest that the X and Y generation of workers and leaders do march to a bit of a different tempo. It certainly appears that they don’t like change unless it accelerates their position in life and are more in tuned to “what’s in it for me” as well as being filled with impatience.

This isn’t an impossible situation only one requiring keen management skills. Mainly, you must get all employees committed to level of expectations for both of you. This might be verbal or in writing, but it must be. Mutual agreements of various commitments reduce misunderstandings, improve morale and increase productivity.

As always, please accept my good wishes for a tremendous week and may the sun shine brightly upon you, wherever you are.

George F. Mancuso, CPC
Gman Business Resources
Grinnell, IA