The Things You Hear While You’re Out to Eat

The other day, while I was treating myself to a solo lunch with a good book, I was seated next to a table of men clearly on a work lunch break. Now, I don’t usually try to eavesdrop, but these guys were right beside me and their conversation caught my attention. It went like this:

“I don’t have good control over two of my staff. It’s probably going to come back on me. How do you show you’re in charge?”

“I give them checklists and put them on notice when they don’t comply.”

“They don’t hate that?”

“Who cares? You have to tell them who’s in charge.”

So, if I were going to write a book on how not to relate to your employees, this conversation would be in it. I was busily eating my salad at the time and these men did not ask me to weigh in on their conversation, but if they had, here is what I would have said:

“In my experience, the people who have to say that they’re in charge usually aren’t. The best way to get people to listen to you is to inspire them to do so, rather than bullying them into it, which is at best a temporary solution and usually results in pandering rather than productivity.”

I’m guessing that both of these guys have a lot of turn-over in their staff because no one wants to work for someone who treats them like an errant child. I like this little acronym for effective management:

Listen to your employees ideas and frustrations. Encourage open communication.
Empower your employees to problem solve by creating spheres of independent action.
Acknowledge employee input and contributions. Promote a team mindset.
Develop unique relationships with your employees. People are individuals.

A little corny, perhaps, but definitely effective. A large part of being an effective manager is knowing your employees and tailoring your approach to who they are and what they need.

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