As I mentioned in my last post, I have been a MT listener for the past 3 years and have learned a tremendous amount. Last year, I was assigned to a new position that required A LOT of change to take place. My predessor had allowed things to fall into a state of ruin and the responsibility was immense. I didn't have the time to leisurely ease into adjusting feedback. My results were being measured on a very short timeline. I rose to the occasion, but got of track somewhere along the line.

I work in a retail sales envirnment for a national financial institution, and am known to be a no-nonsense manager that high expectations for his people. I've turned-over a lot of my staff (needed to happen), and now feel that I truly have a good group of people overall. I have 9 direct reports, and 4 indirect report my Asst. Mgr. manages. We have performed at a high level, but I need some advice in order to get back on track. Here is my issue:

*** I am very results driven, but find myself too often focusing on the things my directs should do differently. My adjusting feedback is to the point where I feel like I'm beating-up my people sometimes. I hate seeing the look of dread on their face when I ask if I can give them some feedback! The problem is, it bothers me to see things needing done differently, and I feel like I am somehow not doing my job correctly if I do not address it quickly. My mind tells me this is wrong, but my passion overwhelms my common sense. ***

Summary: At this point, how do I become a more positive manager which should get more results from my directs, but yet not feel like I'm ignoring the poor behavior I am witnessing? How do I do this without my people feeling like I am being fake after having experienced the panicked version of me all last year?

jhack's picture

Tell them what you posted here. Tell them that you had to turn things around, and that you "truly have a good group of people here."

As managers, we've been trained to look for the exceptions, the things that need fixing. So much goes right. So much of what people do is proper. They show up on time. They respond quickly to our whims. They are polite to customers. They stock the shelves correctly. They implement trade promotion displays just the way the manufacturer wants it. Etc.

So we need to see those things, and thanks our people for doing them. It feels silly to say it sometimes. But that's all there is to it.

So tell them you've succeeded (collectively) in phase I. The store is back on track. Now it's time for phase II. You're going to manage in a way that's appropriate for this new phase, and some of your behaviors will be different.

And then do what you say you'll do. Be positive. Coach them. Focus on all the things they're doing right and reinforce those things til they become second nature.

Good luck! and let us know how it goes.

John Hack

PS: Congrats on being effective in a difficult retail economy.

RobRedmond's picture

I think maybe you are using feedback to give guidance, and that is not what it is for. Feedback is to encourage effective behavior. *Behavior* Behavior is what they say, what they do, facial expressions, volume and speed of voice, etc. Surely you can turn around operations without noticing negatives in people's behavior all day long.

To give direction or guidance, do not use the feedback model. Just give the direction.

Set short-term MT goals to give direction. "I want all the boxes in the back that are in a mess neatly stacked by 5pm today." Then you can give positive feedback when they do it. Or you can give positive feedback for them trying to do it and almost succeeding.

Key: Set your people up for success by using MT goals to communicate direction, then give positive feedback on succeeding numerically or beating the objective time/date. The delegation model works for this kind of thing. "I need your help. I need these boxes moved to the back, unpacked, and then taken down to the dock on the service elevator by 11am this morning. Can you do that?"

"Can I give you some feedback? When you get all of the boxes moved, unpacked, and then down at the dock an hour early - dude - you rock. Thank you."

BartMasters's picture

BLUF: Make sure you do more positive feedback than negative.

You say yourself that you have a good people - so smother them in 'good' feedback. Let them know that 95% of the time they are doing a really good job, then when they need adjusting, it will be a small proportion of the sea of good feedback. It can be hard, cause as you note - we are trained to pick on the bad to fix it, but make sure you are also noting when people do a good job. Then you wont get nearly as much the look of fear when you say 'Can I give you some feedback?'

maestro's picture

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I'll put them to work! Positive feedback, here I come!

HMac's picture

Do you ask? And do you really LISTEN and process what they say back to you?

Or are you just practicing "Drive-By Management" - seeing something you don't like, commenting on it, and expecting different behaviors?

And if you're going to tell me that they DON'T say a lot when you ask what they'd do differently, I think that's a clue. They're not seeing this as an invitiation to participate.

If you're going to engage in the Feedback Model, make sure to use the ENTIRE model.

Look - I'm not second-guessing that you have to fix things, or that you're not right to try to institute change. So, give direction. And give praise. Being Boss sometimes means giving orders.