It’s funny how events come together at moments when we least expect them. I just finished reading “Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership.” I thought it was a good book. It presents situational leadership pretty clearly as the act of choosing from 4 common leadership styles (directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating) the best style that fits the situation or person you are managing. It explains this in a very clear narrative that made me chuckle from time to time. On the one hand it is succinct and easy to understand. On the other, it is so contrived. But it has to be in order to teach this lesson. All in all, a very good read.
A recent discussion about communication had me thinking about this book today. A friend asked about using communication effective to avoid conflicts and major catastrophe (I’m paraphrasing the actual question). It’s a hard one to answer without being in the situation or without specific details.
My generic advice was:
if you feel you are not being communicated to effectively then you should directly ask for what you need or what works best. Any manager worth the title would be happy to get such directive feedback.
After thinking about this some, I stand by my response, but I also thought about the book. One device the book employs to teach the basics of situational leadership is to have a person meet the One Minute Manager’s staff and discuss how he manages them. Naturally, they are all very much aware of the exact management style he uses and are extraordinarily aware of their weaknesses and why each management style is best suited to their personalities, skills, experience, and work style.
So I giggled a little because that just sounds so perfect. But, it also reinforces my above statement. Yes, a manager should absolutely be an effective and clear communicator, but so should the person they are managing. At the very least, you should be able to tell your manager what it is you need to hear in order to improve your performance.
Everyone has some responsibility in this game. Managers need to ask for and accept feedback. Staff need to be able to articulate what does and doesn’t work for them. We don’t need to be Six Sigma Black Belts to do this. We just need to know how we feel when we hear feedback in different ways. What works? What motivates us? What makes us feel comfortable asking questions and admitting we need help? What makes us feel like dirt? Or stupid?
If we can articulate that, then half the battle has been fought.
I will take this opportunity to remind us all that in order for this to be a successful exchange, we need to practice good active listening and remember not to take things personally. Put your constructive feedback hats on and change your work environment for the good!