Everyone can have a bad day. It’s part of being human. The problem is when we’re charged with managing a team and being our best for the sake of others and something bigger than ourselves each day: the company. In a recent discussion with ABC News, I pointed out that even the best managers have trying days or times of the workday when they just aren’t their most diplomatic selves!
Being a manager and “getting the big bucks” as they say, comes with this price – being able to separate emotion from the business at hand so that others, including colleagues and those we manage, are motivated as often as possible – even through difficult challenges.
Building a great department and team is best achieved together. That doesn’t mean adopt a “misery loves company” management style, though! Unfortunately, in the absence of information, most employees assume that they’re at fault. An office is an eco-system or fabric of mood swings and energy cycles.
We spend most of our waking hours during the week at work. You might spend additional hours in the evenings on the weekend thinking about work. So it stands to reason that you’re emotionally invested in your professional life. The mettle of a manager is tested particularly during tough times, but when the angst is separated from this “emotional investment,” managers are the most effective leaders.
So, some simple steps to take are to allow that red flag to be seen internally when you’re about to deflect stress onto others:
Take a Breather, a Walk, Preoccupy Yourself with Work: Sometimes it pays to do anything but interact with others until you’ve had a chance to simmer. The “problem” may be one of perception – you may be blinded by the seemingly urgent nature of an unexpected event.
Type Up the Issues – for Yourself First: There may well be legitimate issues that you need to take care of, but you may think them through more clearly by writing them out and reviewing them. Notice I said “for yourself” – so you have time to evaluate how much of a problem this is, and the possible solutions. Rather than taking a knee-jerk approach with an instant e-mail or phone call, think things through. Talk to others if you have to and be armed with facts before you leap to conclusions about issues based on fear.
Avoid “False Highs”: The same reflective time applies to judgment about something you think is the answer to all the company’s problems! This seesaw dynamic can create an unpredictable environment for employees that engender anxiety and disappointment. If you change your mind frequently, dash hopes on earlier-approved projects, or compliment someone in the morning and then admonish them two hours later, it can hurt productivity – and employee loyalty.
Pause Before You Hit “Send”: When someone has let you down, it can be very tempting to “let them have it”. Just like the old adage, “count to 10 first,” dowse your fired up communications with a blanket of even-keeled energy before sending them out. You can rarely “recall” an e-mail, just as you can’t “recall” a verbal dialogue. But you can either in your “draft folder,” or else tone it down with more positive language.
Put Your Communications Through the Collaborative-Checker: Everyone has a “spell checker,” but create your own “collaborative checker” software – to ensure that your communications encourage cooperation, not defensiveness. No computer program offers this etiquette software (just yet), but you can help Humanize Your Workplace™ by creating your own customized version.
Find Lessons in Mistakes: If you do slip and someone is in the line of fire when you can’t handle a pressure cooker moment, you can always apologize. Employees are greatly appreciative of this and it doesn’t take away your power – it wins loyalty and dedication for you, as it does in life. It also helps you catch yourself next time in seeing those red flags in more brilliant red the next time around.
Being a “balanced manager” is a sound strategy for getting the best from your team. It’s an effective way to elevate your status as a thoughtful and prudent leader, which earns trust, respect and loyalty. P.S. Good luck with the new “software!”