Submitted by Gazman on
I have been a (fairly ineffective) manager for around 5 years now, I don't think I'm useless but I've always known that I could do a better job without really knowing how. I stumbled across the MT podcasts around a week ago, have begun to work my way through the basics series, and I am absolutely loving it. This is the sort of down to earth, practical, humorous and professional advice I wish I had listened to when I was starting out. I can't wait to start putting this stuff into practice but I have two fears:
1.) My direct reports will think "Here we go again, this is just another one of his phase's or false starts or half hearted attempts at being a better manager. I'll just nod in the right places, play along and it will all go away again until the next time."
2.) I'll prove them right.
I have tried to put some things in place in the past but the workload and my own inability to follow through always win in the end and before I realise it we are back where we started again. More guilt on my part and more cynicism on theirs.
I know there are no easy answers but I was looking for a bit of encouragement or advice as to how I can avoid failure in implementing one on ones, feedback, coaching etc.. Also maybe someone out there recognises what I am talking about from their own experience and has managed to succeed. How did you do it?
Start with one on ones
... if you haven't been doing them it'll be the best thing your team will have seen you do. Whether they approach it cynically or not, o3s will give them something that every direct wants: more info from the boss. And if you stick to it, even without introducing any of the remaining trinity, you'll convince them that this isn't a false start.
Also, if you haven't already found them, be sure to listen to the "rolling out the trinity" casts.
If you were really an
If you were really an ineffective manager, you wouldn't be here! Welcome!
Wanting to get better and being willing to work at it are a big piece of the battle, IMHO.
As you get to know your directs better during the one-on-ones, they will also get to know you. That is, as Petera says, a good thing!
There is a reason it's called a "leap of faith." Hold your nose and jump!
We'll make sure you float :D
I'm on my way
Ok, so I'm happy and excited to report that I'm now well on my way. The emails went out today, the weekly time slots are agreed for my 5 directs and and the first 10 weeks are booked. I also asked my directs to keep me accountable by not letting me off the hook with these meetings, so hopefully that will help ensure that they happen and keep on happening going forward.
Thanks Petera, I've listened to the 'Rolling out the Trinity Series' and will not be looking to formally implement feedback for at least the next 6 weeks. That will be 30 one-on-ones, I should be getting the hang of them by then.
I do have one question though - I don't have weekly staff meetings and would like to implement them sooner rather than later. Does anyone have any thoughts or advice on whether I should be trying to put staff meetings in place at the same time as getting o3s underway?
Thanks also to bug_girl for your encouragement, I particularly liked your opening comment, that's my kind of logic.
Gaz - I'd be interested to
Gaz - I'd be interested to read updates once you're into the Trinity implementation at month 1-3-5 or some interval, read how the DR's respond, or not, and how your new reality feels as you wear it overtime.
No turning back...
You are not alone, my friend. The fear of trying and failing, or trying and fading, haunts many of us. The only advice I can give you is to focus on O3s. Whether you need to put up post-it note reminders, say a daily affirmation, or enlist the help of your friendly neighborhood Drill Instructor, put all of the other exciting M-T ideas on the back burner until your O3s are second nature.
My evidence is purely anecdotal, but O3s may have saved my sanity, and possibly my job. Over the last 18 months the recent business downturn has reduced my staff from a high of 12, to 8 people. O3s have allowed us to not only keep the core talent from getting skittish and finding other opportunities, but we’ve gelled into a high performing group. It’s allowed me, as a Supervisor, to learn their motivators, talent, and weaknesses. It’s allowed us to put trust in each other. The proof is in the pudding. One of our people was just promoted, two are being considered for supervisory roles, and in the midst of a hiring chill (we’re not allowed to call it a freeze), we’re cleared to add two more people in Q2 and Q3.
Keep up the good fight, my friend.
Congrats on taking this big step
Well done Gary
You need to pat yourself on the back. What you are doing is huge. As for adding the staff meetings, the first question to ask is "Do I need them?" If you need them, then absolutely put them on the table. If they don't add value right now, push them off for a bit. Staff meetings are not part of the 4 part trinity (O3s, feedback, coaching and delegation). What works for someone else won't necessarily work for you. And everyone has doubts about doing this.
One of my very successful buddies (now an IT director at a HUGE company) was doing a version of O3s that someone taught him 15 years ago. I introduced him to MT and he now follows the O3 template to the letter. And guess what? All the doubters and people who did not like the flavour of the week stuff are all in line. And he is even more successful. As are most people who use this system.
Part of being a successful manager is making decisions. If you decide to do staff meetings, make sure you are fully versed in the MT meeting rules. Keeping the meetings focused and on time is tough at the beginning. But again, soon the team will buy in and you can start delegating the meetings to others. Good luck. Stick with it.
D, I certainly plan to keep the folks here updated on progress if there's interest in it, so watch this space.
Thanks Stllsmyln for the encouragement, I'm really drawing strength from people like you. It's great to know that others have gone through similar things and that refrain that keeps coming back - "O3s are the best thing you will do, they work!" I'm convinced and looking forward to seeing it with my owns eyes.
Thanks also to you *RNTT for your response. I think I do need to do Staff Meetings as at the moment I really have a bunch of 5 individuals and not a team. I have some questions about how they would work for my guys but I won't let this affect the O3s which are my no.1 priority.
Welcome to MT! My first thought reading this thread is don't try to do too much at once. Focus on one thing first until you become comfortable with it. Then add the next thing. The MT podcasts are chock full of improvements - don't bite off more than you can chew at once. Starting with O3 is the best thing.
I'm an advocate for staff meetings. Some things the whole team should hear at the same time the same way. And it saves you time so you don't have to repeat it for every DR.
There is a podcast on how to run meetings in general (listen to this first): http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/08/effective-meetings-get-out-of-jail
There is a podcast on how to run staff meetings specifically (listen to this second. It builds on the first.): http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/05/how-to-run-your-staff-meeting-part-1-of-2
You will feel great as you see the benefits from implementing MT recommendations. Good luck!
Thanks for the advice Laura. I know you're right but I'm just so excited right now about implementing lots of the great things I am learning on MT and becoming a better manager. But I do need to be realistic and learn from those who have already done this stuff so I intend to do just that. There are sure to be some tough times ahead and I want make sure I give myself the best chance of succeeding.
But I'm on my way and there's no turning back now, I can't wait to see things change for the better and know that I have been the catalyst for that change thanks to the MT guys and the folks here on the forums.
Happy Days :-)
Thumbs up for staff meetings !
It is hard for almost everyone to implement new behaviours but I promise you will reap the benefits. The improved relationships from the o3s will really help you implement other things in your area. I remember how nervous I was when I said through clenched teeth “Can I give you some feedback?”.
I also really like staff meetings, I implemented them about 6 months ago following a cast and what I like most about them is the relationship building between directs. I am a bit worried that they are a bit weather reporty though!
1 Month Update
Just thought I would give you an update on how things are going.
I'm around 1 month in with the O3s and still going strong. Well I am but not sure about all of my directs. With some of them it still feels a bit forced and we seem to struggle to make them anything other than a review of their projects which we could equally well do on the fly. One of the guys even arranged a customer visit causing him to miss our O3 which really reflects the company culture that we drop everything for the customer. But it's still early days I know and I will certainly be persevering.
I'm looking forward to starting feedback as this will add an extra dimension to the O3s and I feel like I'm constantly holding my breath at the moment. It's amazing how many opportunities there are to give feedback when you become more aware and start looking for them. But that will have to wait a little bit longer because we are entering annual review season. So I've been busy working on them (with help from MT) and am trying to ensure that I use this opportunity to continue my journey towards being a more effective and professional manager.
I remain excited about the future and really feel that the things I am learning from MT and putting into practice are changing things for me in ways I would never have believed possible.
Gaz...any update @ 90 days?
Howzit now Gaz?
Well I am still going strong with the O3s and am really seeing the relationship with my directs growing all the time. I've been through the annual appraisal process and have been able to set my directs some good MT goals for the year ahead. However I haven't yet got started on feedback but that's next. Whilst I have been getting some of these initiatives up and running my boss has asked me if I would be interested in taking on additional responsibility which would increase my number of directs from 5 to 15, I've said yes and the wheels are now in motion to get the change in place by the end of the month.
In the meantime the company I work for (a small UK software company) has been taken over by a large American one. There will be a small number of redundancies initially but there will be no immediate impact on my area, as for longer term, who knows! Another upshot of this is that my directs may well attribute the changes I am making (O3s, feedback etc.) to our new American owners which may or may not be a bad thing, I haven't really decided on that yet.
So as you can see there is a lot happening and I am a little wary of trying to introduce too much change when my responsibilities are increasing and folks are already probably still reeling a bit from the takeover. However I will not allow it to derail me in my efforts to become a better manager, in fact it will become more important than ever in the future.
Thanks for following up on my progress D, it's much appreciated. I will provide further updates in due course if you're still interested.
Thank you Gaz
Glad to read it.
Thanks for sharing
Very much enjoyed reading this string of posts and seeing how you've come along. It's very encouraging for me. I've been doing O3's with all of my directs since January, and while I understand and can see value in the other parts of the trinity, I have yet to fully implement them. I do think it's about time, as some have aptly stated, to take the leap and launch into feedback. I also love the MT recommendation of positive feedback only at first.
Perhaps the greatest value I've found related to MT recommendations is that, as I've shared them with my boss, how I'm putting them to use and why, he immediately recognized the value and has started implementing elements of the trinity himself. We're now exploring ways to more formally expand these practices organization-wide. It's very encouraging and I love that I can frequenly apply the principles and recommendations that I'm exposed to in the podcasts.
Best of luck with your continued journey and expanded role,
First of all, thanks Mike I really appreciate your comments and interest and I must apologise that it's taken me so long to get round to saying that.
On the work front things are pretty tough at the moment. Since the last update one of my top guys has left and another one is going at the end of the week. It may or may not be related to the takeover but one things for sure, it has an unsettling effect on those who are left. Salary reviews were modest this year so as you can probably imagine morale is not great.
As I previously mentioned this is all happening at the same time as I have taken on responsibility for an increased number of directs and it's not going great. I still haven't introduced feedback and haven't organised one to ones for my new directs yet. I also need to delegate some of the things I am currently doing to free up the time to focus on the larger team I now have. So all in all I'm feeling a bit discouraged at the moment and it's so easy to fall back into bad old habits and forget what's important (i.e. The MT trinity)
Anyway enough moaning, it's time to focus once again on the basics and set up O3s with my new directs first. Then I really must get going of feedback with the others.
Will keep you posted,
tough times call for the juggling koan
Every time I check in on this thread, I wonder if we are living parallel lives.
Have you listened to "The Juggling Koan" lately? It's clearly time for some of your staff to step up into larger roles, as you've alluded to by mentioning delegation. Having a top performer leave can be unsettling, but it can also be a great opportunity for those who were previously stuck in his shadow. And while you can't make any promises, stepping into larger roles certainly isn't going to hurt during the next salary review period.
Well an update is long overdue. Unfortunately it's not a good one, I have allowed things to slip - badly! A lot of the good habits I was cultivating have gone and I have reverted back to a lot of the bad old ones. Spending hours "doing email", letting other people dictate my agenda, getting together with my directs "when I have the time" - strange but I never do! It's easy to make excuses but the bottom line is that I have simply failed to follow through on things.
So the upshot is that I'm feeling fairly discouraged at the moment. But a new year is just a few days away and that always presents the opportunity to start afresh, and that's what I will be aiming to do. I have got to dust myself down and get going again on the basics, what else can I do? It's just so frustrating, I know what I should be doing to make myself a better manager but it's just so darn difficult.
Anyway, onwards and upwards as they say, will let you know how things go.
I know where you are coming from...
I was lucky to find MT a couple of years ago. Before MT, I was an ok to poor manager, and really with no idea what I should be doing. After (of course there is really no after since it is not done) MT, I am a better manager, who knows what he should be doing but still has a hard time making it happen. I'm a high S, so One-on-Ones were easy to make happen and stick with. Feedback is a still a challenge.
My only recommendation would be to go back to basics and start small and go slow. I almost feel bad for someone who finds MT now. It would be like being in the desert and then suddenly being dropped in a lake. You want to drink it all, but you can't, and shouldn’t.
Almost all the literature on making lasting change say start with as small a change as you can. Make that change, establish it as part of your routine and once that is done start on the next small step. That is why the rollout process for the trinity is something like 6 months long. I think we would both agree that if it took a year but was implemented very well that would be great.
Your experience sounds similar to mine, down to having the bad habits sound eerily familiar.
However with the support from the community here I'll be trying afresh in the new year, and wish you all the best with your efforts as well.
dont forget to "Be"have
The good news is you know what needs to be done (just that itself is a big hurdle for some).
We could all barrage you with "recs", I can only tell you my experience... the discouraging feeling is also good news. No denial or self deception there.
Gary when I am "behind" and "Buried" and all that baggage gives me the justifier to put off my practices, I notice that I still remain better than yesterday due to staying out of the box. Being visible, positive, approachable, and alert to others keeps me ahead of my peers who get tangled in workload baggage (behaviorally). If you havent read "Leadership and Self Deception" please do. While you may already have this aspect naturally, it has been a special tool and practice for me that overpowers a majority of flaws I may exhibit.
My Dad used to say..." dont forget, what you are, speaks so loudly, that I cannot hear what you say."
Are you up for introducing feedback?
Great to read about your progress. Even if feeling low on energy now it seems that you are in a better spot than a year ago. Knowing what you need to do can feel like a burden. Not knowing is likely a bigger one. I think slipping... and getting back, is part of the process for most managers.
Two suggestions. It might be of value for you to listen to the One on Ones refresh show. And I think Wendiis blog post "http://www.manager-tools.com/2010/12/starting-again" from a few days ago might encourage you.
Are you up for starting working systematically with getting good at feedback? If yes, please send me an email with contact info and I will send you a draft version of the second tool in the Trinity series we are producing (managertoolspublishing.com). All I wish for in return is that you Beta test it and share your progress and/or give feedback on the tool.
Good luck with getting back on track and thank you for sharing.
Best regards, Tomas
What is happening is perfectly normal
Once again, I applaud you on your efforts. Most would not even try what you are doing, especially in your circumstances. I know adding 10 one on ones to your regular routine looks overwhelming. I suggest you get back to doing them with your regular staff, then add a couple of the highest performing newer directs once you are back in your routine.
Don't try to do everything at once. And really, if you get push back from the directs and the O3s are not smooth as silk from the get go, who cares? You are not asking for their opinions, you are asking them to attend a business meeting and act professionally. Who can argue with that? Again, just add a positive behaviour every few weeks and you will find you have more of your time back and less stress.
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to post I really appreciate it. It's a real encouragement for me to receive the support and advice of so many of you and it just strengthens my resolve to be better in the future.
I know you're right Pete about getting back to basics. Thanks D for the advice on staying visible and approachable, wise advice indeed and something I need to keep working on. Tomas you're so right about me being in a better place than a year ago, I must not forget that. Asterisk, thanks for the reminder on not trying to do much at once, a real danger given the fact that I've lost so much ground. And Gahdddenbooi it's good to know that I'm not alone in this, all the best with your efforts.
Let's see how things go.
Back on track
Just at the end of my first week in our new office, and the move has given me the perfect opportunity to make a fresh start with one to ones. So they are now scheduled for all 12 of my increased team of directs, even managed to get quite few done this week as well.
Also been going back and listening to a lot of the old casts on rolling out the trinity and feedback in particular, I love listening to them and the recommendations are just SO good and timeless to boot. But I will not be rushing things and intend to do the O3s for 6 to 8 weeks before I start feedback. Seeing as I am not doing weekly staff meetings then I will most likely arrange a meeting specially to launch feedback. (really want to get staff meetings in place one day soon).
Thanks again to everyone for your support.