Giving an employee too much instruction can be construed as micromanagement. It is often seen as condescension and a symptom of a lack of trust.

But giving an employee too little instruction is a sure way to fail as well.  You leave your employees dangling, and they will define their job without you.

So how do you know what style to give?  Well for starters,  have you thought about asking them?

Ineffective Effeciency

If you have a position that generates $10K a month for your business and you have your employee spreading their time between that role and another, it may seem like a decision made to maximize effeciency, but it sounds like you’re probably making a mistake.

Why not pay someone $10 an hour to take on those extra duties and let your first employee focus on maximizing their effectiveness?

Effeciency decisions that do not immediately consider the impact on the bottom line are simply ineffective.

“What’s Your Problem?” IV: The Buck Stops Here

It always amazes me that there are managers who would list example based leadership and employee empowerment as strengths that don’t get it.

You “get paid the big bucks” because you are the one who is ultimately respobsible, therefore you take the heat.

Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.  Let me first explain what I mean by “taking the heat.”

Let’s imagine for a moment that your staff is empowered to make smart decisions for the good of your business.  Let’s also contemplate that you have guided them in how to make said decisions through informed demonstration.  Not that hard to imagine, right?  (At least I hope not!)

So why is it that sometimes your people still come to you, asking you to deal with an irrate customer?  Well, let’s take the smaller percentage of your employees who are simply shrugging off responsibility out of the equation.  Your BEST and BRIGHTEST are doing this too!  What gives?

Maybe you see this as an opportunity to further train this person in the more advanced techniques of being yelled at.  Or perhaps you believe it will give your employees MORE power to deal with every single issue they encounter.

You’d be wrong.  Fact is that the heat isn’t on the representative of the company, it’s on the company that feeds your kids, and it’s not only your job, it’s absolutely in your best interest to take the heat!

You can not lead by example if you don’t.  You can’t empower an employee when you don’t.  Reality is that you’re teaching them to avoid the problem just like you do, and you’re undermining their authority by not backing them up!

It’s really simple.  The buck stops with you.  Stop having your people write checks you can’t/won’t cash.

“What’s Your Problem?” III: A Perfect Example

Pop star Katy Perry recently told an interviewer that she would rather be seen as an inspiration than a role model.  (This during a conversation about nudity in the pop world.)  While I do admire Katy’s thoughts on the matter, I have to suggest that there isn’t much of a distinction.

You see, the people I’ve been inspired by in my life are generally the same people I look to for advise, philosophies, and a roadmap to end up in the places they’ve inspired me to go.

The realitiy is that whether you like it or not, as a leader, you are being watched with great scrutiny.

I’ve had managers tell me that you don’t have to lead by example.  “That’s what training is for!” they counter, as though words could ever speak louder than actions.  And what training can you give without skilled demonstration. 

You are not managing.

Or worse, you are a poor manager.

Whether you like it or not, the leader sets the example.   You are teaching your staff what you expect by demonstrating what they can expect from you.

So if you are late everyday, you are demonstrating an expectation that things don’t get started on time.

If you don’t talk to customers, you are setting the real value of those conversations to your staff, and they are free to write their own rules for their interactions – if they even plan on having them.

If you are aloof, off-putting, conspiratorial, a gossip, or love a two hour lunch, your staff will give you it all back in equal measure.

A good general doesn’t give an order he isn’t willing to fulfill himself.  It wouldn’t have importance if he wasn’t!  And his soldiers would know that.

I’m not suggesting you have to do the job your people are supposed to be doing.  But I am saying you must be able to set the standard for their work when doing your own.  You must hold your people accountable to that level of expectation.  You must encourage them to get to your level, and you must give them reinforcement to get there.  And when they finally work the way you do, you have to let them know you’re proud of them.

You’ve got to inspire and have the responsibility of a good role model.

Never let them see you not sweating.

“What’s Your Problem?!” I

You will find it very difficult to manage your business if you’re too deeply embedded in it.

It was this sound reasoning that led one former employer to invest in a philosophy of “managing from the balcony.”  His policy was to watch the business through surveliance cameras in his office while he busied himself with only the paperwork and on-phone marketing aspects of his job.

Sorry, buddy, but what you did instead of fixing the problem was simply embed yourself in the least people connected part of your business.

What this resulted in was a staff that was left to fend for and manage itself, and that becomes an even larger problem when your management style does not include adequate training.

When this becomes the largest problem was during the greatest opportunities, a customer service issue.

What would happen when there was a problem for this particular former employer is a perfect illustration of why this doesn’t work.

A customer would have an issue, be enraged with an employee, and ask for a manager.  The employee would radio for the manager, and he would either ignore the call, do everything he could to avoid the issue, or worst, walk away from the issue in plain sight of both the employee and the enraged customer.

His reasoning?  “If I have to get involved, you aren’t doing your job.”

There are three solutions to this problem, and they will be the subject of our next three blogs:

1. Empower
2. Lead by Example
3. Take the Heat