Myronosophy #10 Part I

For Managers/Supervisors: How Keeping Things To Yourself, Lack of Trust and Not Delegating Well Trigger Employee Resignation and Animosity

In my six years of training and observing people in the corporate world, there have only been very few managers/supervisors that know how to lead their people well and maximize their presence on their teams effectively.  There are also so few of them who acknowledge the importance of delegating even some of what they do (leadership responsibilities) for the purpose of developing their people and helping them go up the corporate ladder the same way that they were assisted by their supervisors when they were still one of the ‘rank and file’.

In this Myronosophy, we will talk about three of the major shortcomings or misplays most managers/supervisors commit nowadays which, at worst, lead to people resigning, antagonizing them or losing their drive for work.

KEEPING MANAGEMENT DECISIONS ON YOUR LEVEL OR ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATES (POSITIVE OR NOT) TO YOURSELVES:

If you are a manager, supervisor, director, vice president, or president who is reading this article; what are your answers to the following questions or sample situations below?

1.  When your company is struggling financially, should you not let your employees know that the organization is not meeting its financial targets that some of its repercussions might take their toll on their merit increases and the amount of some of their expected bonuses being reduced significantly or worse being forfeited?

2.  In the same vein as above, should you just notify your employees that their merit increases will not be how they used to be or what they used to be getting a few days before the actual crediting of this pay?

3.  When there are management decisions or updates that directly concern your employees, their performance or their job security in your company but are assumed might be taken negatively or not understood wholly, should you not communicate them anymore and just keep them within your ranks just because of the assumption they might not be open-minded enough to understand, accept and live with them?

4.  Should you not give them a heads-up or better yet, fill them in about the results of your meetings with the higher-ups (top level managers, directors, vice-presidents, or presidents) just because they are not supervisors or managers yet?

I’m not going to put words into your mouth but your answers to these questions define the kind of manager that you are and how much importance you give to keeping your staff, no matter what level they are on, in the loop regarding pertinent and critical events that are happening inside and outside of your organization.

You see, most decision-makers hesitate to share with their staff members, assistants, specialists or officers similar decisions and updates like the ones stated above for fear of the following:

a.  They might not understand (for their presumed lack of open-mindedness) the problem or challenges the company is going thru;

b.  They might not accept (due to their practicality or selfishness) how they are going to be affected not only by the problems that have to solved but the organization’s decisions that aim to adapt to the changes or counter/subdue the challenges;

c.  They might not appreciate what the company is prepared to do (they might be hard to please) despite the difficulties it is in or that in spite of such obstacles, they would be able to serve something on a silver platter that they would be able to appreciate, at least.

d.  They merely think such decisions or updates should not be relayed to or shared with anybody else but them because those people are not supervisors or managers yet.  In other words, they have to get promoted first before they are able to relish the prerogative of being someone on your rank.

Well, the aforementioned are merely assumptions until they are proven true.  Even when majority of your subordinates end up not really understanding, accepting, appreciating and respecting your decisions for the betterment and survival of the company after everything has been said and done; it is still better and more mutually-beneficial if you would not have second thoughts about letting them know of the management team’s/owners’ decisions as soon as you can so they know what’s going on and would be able to play a role in helping the company turn things around.

Since the major worries or concerns here are that they might not understand, accept, appreciate and respect; then why don’t we concentrate our orchestrated efforts in making them feel these things?  Right?

Ergo, I introduce you to my U-2A-R principle, which is in short for Make them Understand, Accept, Appreciate and Respect the Business Environment:

MAKE THEM UNDERSTAND:

Seriously, all it takes are effective; prompt communication and positive scripting.  These are the factors that will play a vital role in making them understand the situation, what the company has to do, and how they are going to be affected by the decisions they will make.

But of course, it starts with the owners and the management team carefully and intelligently choosing who their messengers are going to be.  They can’t jut entrust the responsibility of communicating what has to be and knowing how to communicate them positively, properly, and thoroughly to anybody.  This is very crucial.  The decision-makers have to see to it that those who would deliver the message have the good and proven reputation in explaining things without rubbing people the wrong way or making things worse.  Now, just in case the limited time available or how the company’s communication lines are structured does not permit choosing who these people are, they should at least schedule an orientation for supervisors, officers, team leaders and the like.  This series of orientation or training should intend to let them know what has or have to be communicated and how these pieces of information must be relayed in a manner that’s positive, non-condescending, less demanding, and respectful.

Lastly, these orientations have to be held within a significant period of time before the target date of cascading the news or the instructions from the top.  The goal here is to notify employees the soonest time possible so they will not be caught by surprise or off-guard.  They have to be offered a span of time within which they can have all the time to absorb everything, realize the good in the bad, and think of ways on how they can help the company keep its head above the water and remain attractive and competitive in the industry it is in.

MAKE THEM ACCEPT:

This is one tough responsibility to execute and of which message a tricky one to send across. How are you going to make them accept something which they go against or that they don’t like?

Try this out.  After breaking the news gently, turn it over to them and let them speak thereon.  Listen to their standpoint regarding the situation and acknowledge it.  Of course, make sure nothing goes off the record.  Instead of countering their opposing views regarding the situation and the organization’s action steps, have them raise their concerns and think of ways on how you can bring them to the management’s attention so they can be addressed immediately.  When employees witness and sense that you are not just acknowledging what they’re opining about for the heck of it but you are also committing to something that will not dismiss what they have in mind, they put their trust in you.  In addition to that, their confidence in you and the institution grows much stronger and they are left assured you are doing something.

Also, put into writing and commit to memory their personal prescriptions about what they and the company can do to solve problems and make itself more profitable. Afterwards, carry out those which can be done right away with, of course, a go-signal from the big guns of the company and try to discuss those which may take time to pan out with the same people for their scrutiny and consent.  In the process, however, make sure to touch base with the people that you promised to get back to in order to provide updates about the recommendations that they have shared and what the management thinks of them.

History proves, time and time again, how effective this is.  Understand that when people can clearly see and no doubt feel that they are involved in decision-making despite not being supervisors/managers and that they are not just being made ‘soldiers who are left to die in the battle’ (so to speak), accepting a situation is something that is not difficult to do for them.

MAKE THEM APPRECIATE

The keys here are socializing, positive scripting and elucidating WIIFM.

Socialize

Believe me.  For as long as people see and feel, notwithstanding the company’s financial and operational woes, that they are valued; that their contributions are being recognized; that they are being considered as treasured part and parcel of the organization, and that the company is doing all that it can to keep them happy (if not satisfied), they will stay and they will always understand.  Therefore, talk to them often and make them feel comfortable despite what’s going on thru frequent focus group and round table discussions.  This way, we would be able to listen to their take regarding matters and how they are feeling in the midst of the challenges around them.  If these are not possible, we can always utilize survey administration as another workable option.  Who knows? In such avenues, they might be able to bring up viable suggestions to help the company address concerns that not even the Management Committee would be able to think of.  Next, take recourse to staging employee engagement activities which can cushion the impact of whatever the company’s struggles are or stringent new policies, rules and regulations that have to be enforced.  These events are not really purported to divert their attention from the issues at hand or to make them preoccupied with something else while the challenges are existing.  This is absolutely a twisted idea of what employee engagement activities are for.  Instead, they are there to make them relaxed or empowered despite what they have to go through and to let them know that they are still the company’s priority no matter what.  With these initiatives in place, their motivations and aspirations are kept intact and they won’t take refuge in other companies which might offer them a friendlier and a more recognizing environment.

Explain things positively

What does this mean exactly?  Does this mean you have to sugarcoat things just so as to hide the unpleasant things and to make it sound to them that things are still A-OK and that there’s nothing they have to worry about? Definitely not.  To explain things positively does not always mean to give them the runaround but rather to explain things in such a way that will not annoy them or make them want to leave and look for a better job outside.  ‘Positivizing’ encourages us to think first before uttering any word.  It is thinking of the right words to wrap up the not-so-good news with.  Don’t get me wrong.  This is certainly different from sugar-coating in such a way that they know it’s bad news and that you don’t have to hide it.  It’s just that the way you communicate it lessens the damage that it could have caused had you not explained it positively and carefully.

For example:

Instead of saying “the company is not meeting its financial targets”, why don’t you say “the company is coming short of its financial expectations/targets”?.  They’re one and the same, yes.  But psychologically, when employees hear words like “no”, and “not”; they tend to react negatively or fail to see into things correctly.  So, let’s refrain from saying these words.

Another example is:

Instead of saying “you will not be getting as much as what you used to get with your merit bonus because the company is not doing well monetarily”, a much better way of saying it is “your merit bonus is going to be adjusted by decreasing its value as compared to the usual amount you’re getting to align it with the financial standing of the company”.  When it’s said this way, they would immediately get that, as their personal contribution, they have to cope with the financial status of the company and one of the ways to do it is a fraction of their merit bonus must be pared down to be in parallel with the company’s financial status or to save on non-value/profit adding costs.

Just to reiterate, being skillful with positive scripting helps them accept the situation without feeling disadvantaged or feeling that they are being made to suffer from the consequences of the company not doing well on its operations side.

Tune in to WII FM. 

This is the best radio station to patronize and listen to in times of company difficulties.  Well, kidding aside, WII FM is not really an FM radio station.  It’s actually an abbreviation for “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”.  Hence, what’s in it for “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”?

To make your employees appreciate that they still have their jobs and that they are still earning despite the company’s struggles and changes that they are not satisfied with, you may also have to explain what’s in the situation that they would actually benefit from, regardless.  Which is why, prior to talking to them and letting them know of the recent happenings in the organization, you need to research about or consult the bosses for the good things that somehow lie within the status quo that you can explain to them.  On top of they still have their jobs and that they are retaining their monthly salaries, it would help if you will also discuss the accompanying benefits like the following (examples only):

1.  Once the company gets past the financial obstacle and able to exceed its succeeding financial goals, that it is going to look into adding more benefits, enhancing the compensations package, or jacking up the merit pay;

2.  Once the company survives and is able to attract more prospective clients, that opportunities for promotions would come up and the company is going to scout for more people it would provide jobs to.

“What’s in it for me?” is all about making your employees realize and appreciate that despite what’s going on, holding on to their jobs; identifying with the company’s situation and striving harder in their respective duties in the meantime would actually prove to work to their advantage in the long run or as soon as the smoke is clear.

MAKE THEM RESPECT

This is actually the easiest thing to do when communicating not-so-good organizational updates to employees.  Because once they understand, accept and appreciate; respecting the business environment and what the people at the top are doing for them comes or follows automatically.  However, this won’t and can’t be fortified by just lip service by the superiors or lack of commitment coming from those below.  Let’s remember that they couldn’t and wouldn’t respect any decision or even the decision makers if the latter won’t generate their buy-in and if their important roles won’t be taken into account and rewarded.

Making them respect the company’s decisions and decision-makers equates to giving something in return for their acceptance, understanding and appreciation.  It may not always be monetary or materialistic. Even if it’s money or freebies, they don’t have to be given out immediately.  Something as simple as a small program awarding them for their performance, dedication, and loyalty or celebrating a bountiful food treat works.  The primary goal here is not really to mask or sandwich the true situation with things like these but rather to use these as media to let them know their presence in the company is as important as earning the company’s revenues.

Count on me on this, it all boils down to making them feel they’re in good hands and they’re with the best company there is.  If you succeed in this, they would be more considerate.

Now you know that as a concerned leader/manager, you don’t have to keep to yourselves matters that before, you thought should just stay within you or on your level.  There’s no harm in keeping your people abreast of what’s going on.  They have to right to know and to be exposed and involved because just like you, they are also a very precious asset of the company.   Getting of scared of situations like they might not understand, accept, appreciate or respect is now rendered unjustifiable.  If that’s the source of our worries, then put our focus on making them do such using the suggestions stated above.

I’m telling you know.  Not only that you would discourage voluntary attrition, you would also make your people much happier and more satisfied.

Tomorrow, we will talk about how supervisors/managers’ lack of trust of their people and not delegating leadership tasks bounce back as more serious hardships that effect resignations and employee dissatisfaction

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If you are interested in inviting the expert, Myron Sta. Ana (the Next Big Thing in Corporate, Communications, Leadership, Personal Branding and Excellence, and Motivational/Inspirational Training and Consultancy) in your school or organization to talk about this topic and a lot more, just email him @ Myronosophies@hotmail.com / myron.s.sta.ana@hotmail.com or text/call him at 0927-351-9391 / 368-3214.  Right now, he is still connected with Hinduja Global Solutions as its Corporate Trainer so he is only available during the weekend, Saturday and Sunday.  However, if your affair can only be scheduled during weekdays, just advise him a month before (2-3 weeks in advance at least) so he can make arrangements and can prepare accordingly. 🙂

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