The people in your team may feel a bit uncomfortable when you sit down and spend time with them, particularly if they’re not used to it. They might not be used to you doing it or perhaps a previous manager didn’t do it. It’s often the case that people are uncomfortable because they associate their manager sitting down with them as a prelude to a reprimand.
As Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson say in their book ‘The One Minute Manager’ – “Catch people doing something right”
Too many managers think that their job is to – “catch people doing something wrong.”
Many old style managers believed that their job was to check up on what their people were doing and “sort things” as required. Many employees today still feel that’s still the situation. If a manager comes close to you then they’re checking up. If you’ve got that culture amongst your team members, then you need to change it.
Think of it this way – are you the kind of manager who spends time with your team to find out what they’re doing or to find out how they’re doing. Make sure it’s the latter.
Some of your people may even be a bit scared of you particularly when they first join the team. You may believe that – “you’re much too nice a person for anybody to be scared of little old you” – however I used to believe that too.
One day I was discussing a new salesman with John, one of the more experienced guys. “Young Patrick’s scared of you” he said. “Don’t be ridiculous” was my reply, “What have I ever done to make him scared of me, I’m always really nice to him.” – “Well he is scared of you and just wants to please you” said John.
This was something that really made me think because there was no way I wanted any of my team to be scared of me. Now that I was aware of it I took more care in my dealing with Patrick and our working relationship worked out okay.
So always be aware of the impact you’re having on your people; you may think that you’re the nicest most reasonable person in the world but how do they see it.
Sadly, there are some managers who quite like the fact that their people are a bit scared of them and they see it as a positive situation. These are also the managers who spend a lot of time recruiting new people.
I can remember times when I’ve taken over a new team. I’ve had many strange looks and defensive body language when I’ve stopped to have a chat with some of the team.
Some field sales people would get extremely uncomfortable when I told them I’d be spending some time with them visiting customers. However, I always knew that I was getting it right when at later date a salesman would ask – “When are you coming out with me again Alan to see some customers.”
There’s always going to be members of your team who are really keen to spend time with you and others who are less so. However, you must spend time with everyone – more with some and less with others. If you do it right, then your people will start to get used to it and start to see the benefits to themselves.
By Nathan Dean