It’s pretty simple……. get involved! GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.
People are always asking themselves, “Why should I listen to you?” You better have a better answer than, “You are required to!” That’s not a good enough answer. They need to follow you because they WANT to and not because they HAVE to.
Getting involved in the tasks of your people’s job responsibilities show you actually care and have their best interest at heart. They realize you are on their side and know what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes. You immediately establish trust, so when you tell them it CAN be done…..they believe you.
They get a chance to invest in you when you get involved. What they invest is their time, ideas, and opinions which enables you to collect more data to make more intelligent decisions. You have now become a type of vessel that holds their investment and they will respect that. You can close the gap on this disconnect that has crippled so many positional leaders whom think they are above getting their hands dirty.
The CEO that led the turnaround for Domino’s Pizza has firsthand knowledge of this concept. He knows to get the real inside scoop of what’s going on in his company is to visit the franchises. If he every feels a credibility gap between himself and the franchise owner and can sense them asking themselves, “Why should I listen to this guy?” he begins helping making pizzas. He gains instant respect and is able to keep his ear to the ground.
This is the same reason you see politicians doing blue collar tasks such as building houses and help on farms. They are trying to obtain respect and be viewed as humble.
Plus what’s fun is the look on your people’s face when you tell them you going to help them. You may even hear them say, “You’re going to do what?”
Sometimes when you are good to other people it goes unnoticed. Sometimes all the extra care and kindness you show is not appreciated and people will use it against you if it benefits them at the present moment. Does this mean you shouldn’t show kindness? Does this mean that you should only show kindness to those who appreciate or deserve it?
No it does not. You should ALWAYS show kindness to others in ALL situations. So what does it mean? To answer myself here, it just means to be aware of what’s happening to you and your environment. It means to just be one step ahead with your thinking. Don’t take it personal. People will always act like …well …. people. Let me explain.
You manage a small group of people. Out of the kindness of your heart, you have been allowing them to leave the job a little early every day. You understand some have a long drive home; others have children to pick up from daycare etc. You aren’t obligated to let anyone leave early, but you do. You feel it’s a kindness you want to give.
Toward the end of the quarter you notice that your organization has fallen behind its mark to be on track to achieve your goals. You inform every one of the situation and let them know that to achieve the desired results staying a little later than normal is required. Once everything is caught back up, you don’t mind cutting the slack again on leaving early, even though you aren’t required to.
You walk in the next morning and there is a group standing around talking. You say good morning and continue on to the coffee pot for your normal cup of brew. When you finish pouring your cup you pass back by the group and one of the people asks you a question as you pass.
“Hey boss, are you going to compensate our pay for staying late?”
What has just happened? Well this is what is called a GROUP AMBUSH!
A group ambush is when sensitive subject matter is brought up in a group format intended to put you on the spot because there is power in numbers. They know that anyway you answer is going to be wrong in someone’s eyes.
If you say “yes”, you will compensate their time; you have been tied down to the fact that they aren’t getting special privileges by normally leaving early and you will now have to fork over extra money anytime you ask anyone to put in a little extra to get the job done.
If you say “no”, you now have a mob on your hands! It’s a loaded question either way you slice it.
A similar situation happened to Jesus of Nazareth. A woman was brought to him by a crowd of people who was caught in adultery. They told him that the Law of Moses said she should be stoned and asked him what he suggest they do with her. They knew if he said to stone her, he would have contradicted his message of peace. They also knew if he said to not to stone her he would have been blatantly opposing the direction of God. So what did he do? He outsmarted them. He wasn’t tied down to those two choices. He told them to let the person without sin cast the first stone. Slowly the crowd left, one by one. (Smartest person who ever lived in my opinion)
That’s what you have to do in a group ambush. You have to outsmart them. You can’t be tied down to the only two choices they provide you with. When asked if you are going to compensate their pay, you tell them you plan on doing what is fair. Look right at the ring leader and say, “That’s a good question and I’m glad you brought it up. I plan on doing what is fair. Come to my office and we can discuss it more thoroughly.”
When he comes to your office the choice of paying or not paying will be up to you. I’m not your accounting consultant. I’m your behavioral consultant in this analogy. But either way, you want to take the power of numbers away from them, divide and conquer so to speak, starting with the ones who will stir the pot the most if not contained quickly – the hot heads. Next consult the most influential people. Explain that you have been giving them a lot of slack and from there you can negotiate an appropriate solution and do what you think is right.
You can’t always avoid a Group Ambush, but you don’t have to lose either.
When the majority of people hear the word MANAGER they sometimes cringe a bit on the inside. They envision a stuffy middle age man sitting behind a large oak desk barking orders. They can almost hear the slightly pompous tone of voice from the mildly overweight balding man sitting in his cave of an office who obviously only got his position from kissing up to the boss and playing office politics. His people know he has no true experience and is so out of touch with what the people under him go through that he can’t relate to them on any real level. The only thing he knows is to follow the guidelines of what is written in some management book years ago that taught how to deal with the “Silent Generation”.
His methods exist only to serve him and what puts money in his own fat wallet. He blames his people when things go wrong and takes the credit when they go right. He cares nothing about his people except to keep them happy enough to keep producing his desired results. He’s learned a few mild pleasantries to pass through small talk and allow him to not be perceived as a total jerk.
The only leadership training he has is to keep people in line of ranks of authority and thinks that it’s a good thing to be rude. He shows power by attempting to bust people for errors and catch them in lies. Sometimes he will keep this style and try to be the cool boss who is everyone’s friend but doesn’t change what he does…. only what he says. When people hear this word ……. MANAGER they envision the faux kingdom they’ve set up for themselves that keep them unapproachable and distant. THAT’S what most people see.
This type of bad behavior has caused a shift in the world of management. So much so, that a once endearing word has become something people try to avoid all together. MANAGEMENT is now a bad word. This is so sad to me because management still exist. It’s just called something different. We’ve put a new label on it. It’s now called LEADERSHIP.
Just go into any Barnes and Noble and browse the management section and you will rarely find a new book with the word “Management” in the title. This perception of management has such a negative connotation that authors fear putting it in the title because they know their book won’t sell. Instead they replace it with the word, “Leadership”.
John Maxwell defines leadership as influence, nothing more nothing less.
A leader is actually defined as: somebody whom people follow: somebody or something in front of all others: a front runner.
A manager is defined as: organizer of business: somebody who is responsible for directing and controlling the work and staff of a business, or of a department within it.
With that being said, leadership is not a bad thing; not at all. In fact it’s a necessity. I just think a manager HAS to be more than a leader. If being a leader means being a front runner, then a manager isn’t it. Leadership is a quality that a manager should have in order to be an effective manager. Being a leader is to be the one in front of the others in the pack. A manager is something more. A manager is on a higher plane, or at least should be!
A good manager directs a group of people and finds, develops, and facilitates the success of his people. Those who are the best of his people, those chosen few, they are the leaders. They are the stand out players who influence the excellence of others by example.
I imagine management like being the offensive coordinator or coach of a football team. This coach recruits and develops his people until the best from among them rise to the top and the front runner emerges to reveal himself. This leader becomes the quarterback. He is the one on the field actually playing and leading the team. The offensive coordinator is directing the plays according to the strengths of his own team and the weaknesses of the opposing team. He gives advice, encouragement, and holds them accountable to high standards. However the coach can’t be on the field. He’s the coach. He’s more than a quarterback.
If he tries to be quarterback a few problems can emerge. He is busy avoiding tackles, looking for an open receiver to throw to and trying to read the defense; with all of this going on, he has no time to think of the next play and see the game from an overall vision. If the quarterback is the one calling all the shots, the success of the team has a single point of failure. He is so busy working IN the business; he doesn’t have time to work ON the business.
When a leader has all the control and recognition he can very easily become a glory hog and a form of a tyrant. That’s why he needs a MANAGER; someone who will be there to guide the leader taking responsibility when things go wrong and someone who will give his people ALL the credit and recognition when things go right. Leadership is important, but only one piece of the pie.
You would think with all the information provided through television, social media, books, web logs, and personal development seminars that tattling would be limited to children. You may think that you shouldn’t have to worry about a forty year old man or a fifty five year old woman doing something so childish. You would think they would have had plenty of years to grow up. Well I regretfully inform you that most people haven’t. Maturity isn’t guaranteed with age. Sometimes age comes alone.
Imagine you’re by yourself working and someone asks to speak to you confidentially. “Sure come on in.”
“I’m not trying to get someone in trouble. I just thought you should know.”
“I’m listening.” You respond curiously.
“Well, you know this morning when you held the meeting? Right afterward Jay was in the break room telling everyone how stupid the meeting was and how it was wasting everyone’s time. I found it very disrespectful. I just thought you should know”. Sometimes they will even verbalize their request of you not telling anyone they told you.
To be an effective leader you MUST recognize what’s going on here. This person has just revealed himself as being a tattle-tale. He wants you to do something about what he saw because he is not assertive enough to handle it himself. In his own passive way, he has just taken a small stab at you by indirectly saying you have no control. He has pinned you with a call-to-action but has handicapped you because they are now sworn to secrecy. Now if you don’t do SOMETHING this tattle-tail will perceive you as a weak leader who lets far too many injustices slide.
If you tell them that you will keep an eye on it, you will have just approved of their behavior and encouraged someone to become a SNITCH. I’ve seen this hundreds of times and the end result is never pretty. Trust will start diminishing at an increasing rate of speed and your productive environment quickly disappears with everyone becoming involved in “office politics.”
To stop this behavior, first acknowledge it!
“Are you tattling?” More than likely they will say they aren’t and then continue with the story and how that other person was behaving poorly.
Now is time for you to reverse their call-to-action.
“So you’re telling me that person had the nerve to say all of those things?” “Yep”, they’ll say.
“Right after the meeting?” They will continue to nod their head.
“Right in front of you?” Their head will stop nodding
“And you did nothing about it?” Now you can smile on the inside because nine times out of ten, you will see a deer in the headlights look.
Being a leader in any organization, team, or family you must give others the responsibility to stop bad behavior as soon as it shows its ugly head. Make everyone responsible and accountable to keeping the environment healthy and productive.
A manager walks in his office and sits down. He begins working on his daily task and an employee walks by and pops his head in. “Hey, do we have any extra XYZ forms? We are running low.” His supervisor acknowledges his request and informs him that he’ll order some more at the end of the day. The employee turns to walk away, but before he totally leaves throws out a snide comment, “Thanks, we never used to run low on stuff like that.”
What just happened?
YOU JUST GOT SHOT BY A SNIPER! This is a passive aggressive person who has just picked you as a target. He is attempting to say he doesn’t think you are doing a very good job but doesn’t want to come right out and say it. A passive aggressive person has the ability to cut to the bone. And the sad thing is that you probably won’t be his only target during the day. He is hiding in the thick foliage taking shots at everyone who is out in the open field all day long.
You may think to yourself, “Yeah but is really worth getting into it with this person over something so small?” My answer is an astounding YES. When you don’t handle this, it never gets better. You must put a stop to it if you want to keep and create a healthy environment for others and yourself.
A passive aggressive person can be very charming to you face but when you let your guard down or turn your back watch out. They are actually pretty clever about it. They keep their comments and actions right on the borderline of what’s acceptable. They never pull out a big knife to stab you with. Instead they use hundreds of tiny daggers and constantly poke you with them. One or two doesn’t really hurt, but after prolonged exposure, you wind up with some serious wounds. Attacking this way allows them to crawfish out of their actions if the need arises. The passive aggressive person doesn’t fear all conflict, only direct conflict.
To defeat a sniper and get your environment back to a healthy level, you must expose the sniper and pull him out into the open. A sniper likes to hit and run or shoot and hide. That is his modus operandi. Very seldom do major showdowns occur so the key is to win small battles at every opportunity.
When the passive aggressive sniper takes a shot at you by saying, “We never used to run low on stuff like that.” Square your shoulders up to them and ask, “What exactly does that mean?”
This will force direct confrontation and it makes the sniper very uncomfortable so they will try to back out of it. “Oh nothing, I was just kidding. I didn’t mean anything by it”
Now is not the time to let up. Hold their feet to the fire. “I think it did mean something or you wouldn’t have said it.” The crawfishing will continue, “You just took it wrong.” Stay strong, “How am I supposed to take a comment like that?” Now he feels totally exposed and is probably regretting his actions and is ready for correction, “What you are doing is inappropriate and I expect more from you than that.”
Qualities of a passive aggressive sniper:
Taking cheap shots
Breaking chain of command
Remember you aren’t being mean, cruel, nor do you have a chip on your shoulder. You are maintaining a healthy environment for yourself and other people. They deserve to work in peace. You have a right to do what is right and putting a stop to passive aggressive behavior is always the right thing to do.
A few years ago I fell into this trap. I was in need of some good people to fill a couple sales positions the business had open. A man came in, I’ll call Dustin. He had years of sales experience and seemed to really know his stuff. I invited him in and spoke with him in depth about his desires to join the company and what we were looking for. He did a great job, presented himself well, answered my questions the way I expected, and was interactive with the rest of the staff.
I decided to give him a chance. He had the skills I needed so that would reduce the time I would need to spend training him. There was just a small thing about him that concerned me. I noticed a couple potential character flaws having to do with his ethics. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but knew it was there nonetheless.
I tried to fool myself into thinking that I could change him. If he was around me and my staff, he could change. I was just going to keep my eye on him. A few months later and …….boom…… The time bomb went off. His unethical behavior reared its ugly head and we had to part ways. Dustin had done just what I feared he would do. It wasn’t his fault. It was mine. I knew better. I had a long road ahead of me to clean up the destruction.
My next hire was just as bad. I was once asked what I look for in a new hire. My answer was simple, “The exact thing the last person was lacking.” This was no exception. I spoke with a young man who had great morals and his references couldn’t speak highly enough of him. The only problem was he was a little shy. I thought I would still give him a chance. Maybe he would grow out of it. I just knew I could change him.
A few months later I learned I couldn’t. I thought “I’ll change him even if it kills me.” ……….. What a mistake. I felt as if it almost did.
Jim Rohn – “Don’t expect a pear tree to bear apples.” You can hang a sign on a pear tree that reads, “This is an apple tree”.
You can invite people to look at it and tell them it’s an apple tree. Spring times rolls around and guess what….. PEARS!
Always hire for character and train for skill. In a local BNI event I told everyone that I don’t train my people anymore to be pleasant, ethical, or happy. They all looked at me in shock. I continued, “I simply hire pleasant, ethical, and happy people. It cuts my training time in half and I never have any regrets.”
When anyone is in a leadership role they are occasionally challenged by other people with their bad behavior, whether its a parent, a supervisor, a minister, or a team captain. Bad behavior is always harmful to all it touches; to the people that are exposed to it, to the recipient, and to the person on the receiving end of the behavior.
Imagine you walk into a room to make an announcement for an upcoming meeting. You hear someone’s off putting and sarcastic comment, “Great another wooooonderful meeting.”
Imagine you approach an employee and ask him to do a simple task and he responds, “Why do I have to do it. You never ask anyone else to do it?” Everyone turns and looks out of the corner of their eye waiting on your response.
You begin a meeting at exactly 8:00 AM and someone walks in at 8:07. You stop the meeting and wait on the person to settle in so you can resume as you glance down at your watch. They quickly snap, “What? It’s just a couple of minutes. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Bad behavior like this should never be tolerated. If you let it slide thinking the stern look you gave them will be enough, it’s not. You have just nonverbally told everyone else that this type of behavior is acceptable and there are no consequences for acting like a disrespectful child. If you do not set your boundaries and stick to them you are opening the floodgates for more bad behavior.
Six simple words that will instantly stop bad behavior:
Square your shoulders up directly at them and say, “What you are doing is inappropriate.” You can even follow it up by saying, “I expect more from you.”
If you try to convince them that the meeting really is a beneficial experience, or the task you asked them to do is perfectly reasonable, or try to explain that tardiness is a big deal you have already lost. You have justified the bad behavior by responding to what they said and not what they did. You have now just defended yourself and you having to defend yourself will increase in the future because now bad behavior is acceptable.
The armed forces contain some of the most disciplined people in the world. They have the ability to take an ordinary and mundane task and turn it into an art form. Their shoes hold such a shine you can see your reflection in them. Their beds are made beautifully. There have a daily regimen of physical training and eat only the healthiest of foods. The military really does hold them accountable to high standards.
For some this is a lifetime way of living even when they retire from the military. For others however, when the get out of the service, their discipline begins to fade. They put on a few extra pounds, the exercise slows to a halt, clothes appear sloppy, and their work ethic begins to slow.
Why is this true for some who are so disciplined and put together in the service and not when they get out?
The reason is they have become the direct reflection of their peer group’s expectations. They expect less, so you become less. Before the military was setting their expectations of what was acceptable and those people would live up to those standards. When they get out, their friends started setting their new standards. The problem is that their peers expect less. “Come on man, you don’t have to do all that.”
The ones who stay disciplined are the ones who set their own standards. The standards are higher than any that are set for them by other people. Their personal standards are higher than ones set by the military, their parents, their boss, and especially their friends. No one has to tell them what to do or how to do it.
The world will allow you to get away with far less than you are capable of. What standard are you holding yourself accountable to?
You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond.
But that’s not enough.
A local cola delivery man is out in the field running his route delivering cases of soda to convenient and grocery stores. About half way through the morning, he makes a delivery to a local gas station. This particular convenient store owner has a reputation for giving vendors a hard time. As the driver parks his truck and rolls up the side door of his trailer to start unloading the cases of cola, the store owner comes out and begins screaming at the driver for parking in the wrong location. The driver apologizes and hops back in his truck to move and hears the owner call him stupid (flavored with a little profanity).
He continues his duties at the store and as he is getting the owner to sign off on the delivery the owner makes a snide comment that cuts the driver to the bone. When the driver gets back in his truck and leaves, he immediately calls his boss. He tells his supervisor everything that happens and the boss asks, “What did you say back to him?”
“I didn’t say anything. I held my tongue. I knew I couldn’t control what he did, but I could control me.”
The supervisor responds, “Well thank you for that. That shows your level of maturity. But how do you feel about it?”
“What do you mean how do I feel about it? I’ll tell you how I feel about it if you really want to know and since you asked………. IT TICKS ME OFF!!! I’M FURIOUS!”
How many times has this happened to you? You control your actions but then start thinking to yourself, “That sorry joker, I ought to have ripped him a new page. He definitely deserves it. He better be glad I’m a good person. Well at least I know that I did the right thing,” the entire time pouting with your emotions in an uproar and leaning on a self-righteous pretext.
Those negative influences are still affecting the way you feel on the inside. Controlling your actions is just a part of the happiness equation that shapes your character. You still have to have enough emotional muscle to control how you feel about it. Outside influences shouldn’t affect how you feel, your demeanor, or your attitude. You control those, not someone else. You have to be mature enough to realize that it’s not you. It’s them. Don’t accept that burden. Develop enough emotional muscle to control your own feelings.
Your mind is the source of your moods, not your surroundings.
When you first think of this, you may not see it as a good idea. In some cases it really can be, if and only if the competition is performing at a higher level than you. Better completion causes you to stretch and grow into a better person, athlete, parent, executive, and business leader.
However, if you are playing completion that is not as talented as you and you play to the level of completion instead of growing, you are wilting. Playing down to the level of your competition is the reason upsets in sports are able to be pulled off.
I’ve watched team after team dominate their all their competitors. Everyone who stepped on the field with them fell prey to their dominating talent combined with intense effort. One team particularly comes to mind. The team was beating everyone by a fair margin. However, when they played a team, who was clearly not as talented as their normal competition and who they were expected to dominate by a huge margin barely pulled off the victory.
Why does this happen? Why do salespeople sell less when the competition is less? Why does organization’s production go down when they aren’t challenged?
Simple, they are playing down to the level of their competition. The pressure is off and everything seems to be on cruise control.
The great Julius Ervin once said that he never tried to compete with other teams or players. He tried to compete with the best possible version of himself. This philosophy helped him become one of basketball’s all-time greats.
Always play to the level of your best possible version of yourself. To do this you have to visualize your best possible self.