Monday, May 1, 2017

A Manager’s Mirror, Episode VI

Trust people, build confidence, cast away fear 
by Georgina Popescu

Before going into the details of this episode, I need to get back to the idea of the entire series and, more important, to its title – A Manager’s Mirror.

It does not only reflect the need for self-assessment (see the pilot episode) or the permanent exploration of the environment around (as mentioned in Episode I - just as in a thrilling but safe driving experience, you should put to good use all the mirrors in the car, while keeping eyes both on the road ahead and on the picturesque surroundings!).

The most important mirrors on a successful manager’s path are actually… his (her) people! They are all mirroring the attitude and responding to the feed-back they receive with the same coin, only usually amplified in terms of effect. Trust returns loyalty, confidence returns enthusiasm, while fear returns discontent. It has to do with the basic law of cause and effect, concentrated in an old Romanian proverb saying: ‘how you lay your bed determines how you sleep’.

Experience has revealed to me many times in different organizations that proper delegation and empowerment proves and at the same time strengthens reciprocal trust, builds mutual confidence and casts away everybody’s fears (or at least silences them for as long as necessary to get the job done!).

The key word here is ‘proper’ and it means that it does not work if the three conditions above are not met.

Before delegating an important task, you have to believe in the integrity of the person, in their professional ability to carry it through and in their maturity not to be overwhelmed by negative feelings and get lost along the way. You can start with smaller and less important things and support your colleague on the path of self-development, so that he (she) grows both professionally and personally until ready to take on more challenging jobs.

You also need to be fair and transparent in your feed-back, not hide behind your position to avoid conflict or put others down when they fail. Management is a two-way street and the best means to enlarge it is by sharing and learning from each other.

The first ingredient is the most essential – mutual trust. It is hard to build and easy to loose, and once it is lost becomes really difficult to get back (even though not always impossible!). The other two – confidence and fearlessness - are usually rooted in this one. Therefore, if you want to have a winning team, you need to relate with each of its member on that level or be honest and carefully separate your ways, as fair and constructively as possible, but still as early in the process as necessary not to hurt the rest of the team.

I believe you all wonder by now – is there a simple ‘ABC success key’ to unlock and align the three properly on your managerial path?

The good news is that once you see them in your own mirror, it is not so hard to contaminate everyone around. The bad news is that I do not believe in universal recipes for that. The only thing I can do is share mine today, as I see it when I look back on the past 10 years or so…

‘My way’ basically consists in a mix of honest smile, enthusiastic story-telling and transparency over ‘the bigger picture’ for every task I give. I approach delegation based on confidence, empowerment and control in variable dosage, depending on the compatibility between the person and the task. I strive to ensure individual (or team) recognition for the result, and share failure in a manner aimed not to judge, but to learn from what went wrong. I can be understanding and demanding at the same time, but I do commit to personal involvement whenever needed (either as a fall-back option or as an escalation support). Sometimes I need to ask for temporary ‘sacrifices’ but try not to forget compensating for that afterwards.

Finally, I admit that I had my fair shares of failures, but somehow managed not to allow them to discourage me to start over again – and this is exactly the motivation behind today’s Manager’s Mirror.

So… you are now challenged! Look in your mirror once again, find your own way and trust it - today and always!

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