I generally don't use this space to get quite this personal, but after an enlightening conversation yesterday and this being Christmas Eve, I figured "why not?"
In a gross overgeneralization, one of the problems with an engineer mindset like mine is that we tend to follow formulas. We learn early on that formulas work, they're predictable, and we know how to interact with them. While I consider my ability to improve to be one of my most valuable talents, I find myself falling into formulas now and then in my personal life, but hadn't thought about it much in my professional life. So the conversation yesterday struck me. Here's the other half (and the important part) of the conversation:
I realized that when I give you specifics you stick to them
it's best to not give you specifics have you figure it our and let you have the room to explore and be creative
I need you on your toes
well…being a leader is finding what's best for those around you, although it might for a little while be tougher on you and on them
you are welcome…and it's what's best for all of us. I have to know that you can make the best decisions in my absence based on you not on just on what I would do or the guidelines provided…that's how the right decisions will be made
I didn't take any of that as an insult, in fact, I took it as a sign that I had been analyzing myself and the situation correctly (for the most part). But more than that, I found it fascinating that someone who has known me for such a short time has figured out something so core to me and has planned/worked accordingly. 🙂
So my point is… what things have you discovered about your people this year?
Not just the people who report to you, but also those you report to. You've probably learned some of their personality quirks and how to share an office space with them, but what have you learned about the person themselves? Here are some questions that every manager or anyone being managed should figure out about the people around them:
- How do they respond to criticism? Praise? Do you/they give feedback at all?
- How do they manage? Do they micro-manage trying to control every little thing that happens or do they work to enable the people and get out of the way?
- What are their expectations? How do they expect the results to be presented?
- When problems arise, how do they expect them handled/presented?
- When successes happen, how do they give/share/take credit?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses? What have you done to balance/support them?
Don't get me wrong… I haven't figured it all out. In fact, it has to be figured out all over again with almost everyone you (or I) will work with. But I believe firmly that answering these questions will always help…