Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wisconsin Recall

"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind" --- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Big uproar in Wisconsin. As you've may have seen in the news, voters in Wisconsin are divided on whether to keep Governor Scott Walker in office or boot him out. There are heated issues on the table based on decisions made by Governor Walker.

Regardless of which side you may lean on this issue, one statement the Governor made stands out when he said, "I made promises to get to this office and now I am keeping them." Oh how we wish that every politician kept his or her word.

Oh how our employees wish we would stick to our words. They wish we were the leaders they thought we were when we hired them. We can regain our employees trust by avoiding some of the following pitfalls:

1.) Hinting, rather than speaking straightforwardly. Some managers feel kinder or more polite sugarcoating a difficult conversation, but it's not at all kind to let someone miss an important message. When a manager sugarcoats a message, the meaning is missed, or the message presents requirements as mere suggestions and team members end up confused about expectations. Most employees prefer straightforward communication so they don't need to figure out what they're really supposed to take away.

2.) Delegating, but not really. Sometimes a manager is so nervous about, or invested in, a project that even though he or she has technically assigned it to another team member, the manager doesn't really let go of it. This leads to confusion about who is actually responsible for getting the work done and diminished ownership (and therefore diminished performance) on the part of the team member it was assigned to.

3.) Being afraid to make hard decisions. One common way this plays out is with managers who won't address performance problems or fire under-performers—and if you've ever worked somewhere where laziness or shoddy work was tolerated, you know how frustrating and demoralizing this can be. But it plays out in other ways as well. For example, a manager who's afraid of conflict may hesitate to make necessary course corrections mid-way through a project, but then be unhappy with a team member's final product. Good managers know that their job is to help solve problems, not avoid them, and that they can't value preserving harmony or avoiding tough conversations above all else.

4.) Making social events unofficially required. Employers frequently assume that employees will view office social events (like holiday parties) as a treat—and then get offended when employees don't want to go. Most employees would prefer that employers make it clear when events are mandatory, rather than implying they're optional and then penalizing people who don't attend. And managers should realize that not everyone wants to socialize with their co-workers. Requiring employees to attend events that are ostensibly to build their morale may have the opposite effect.

Of course there are more, but these are just a few of the top pitfalls that lead team members to believe a business leader to have forgotten what was promised, whether spoken or implied. If a voted-into-office business leader performed like this, his or her employees would be fighting for a recall.

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