Management Success Tip #48: Beware of the Stealth Saboteur: “Yeah, but!”

You want your employees to do well—of course you do! After all, when they do well, your department thrives and you along with.

You know that employees go along more readily with decisions they’ve had a hand in developing, so you ask your employees for their input on a regular basis. Yet somehow, it never seems to happen. You don’t understand why, even though you ask for employee ideas and suggestions, nothing changes. Your people slog along at their usual pace, enthusiasm at its usual ebb.

You may have fallen prey to the Stealth Saboteur: “Yeah, but.” Listen to how you respond to your employees, or your team members. Do you seriously consider their ideas? Do you actively look for the merit in their suggestions? Or do you proffer a perfunctory “Yeah,” only to follow it up with “but” whereupon you list all the reasons why not. Why their idea won’t fly, won’t work, won’t improve anything.

Why would anyone working with you want to contribute the fruit of their creativity only to get shot down with a “Yeah, but”!

Granted, some employee ideas may not be valid, and yet, within that idea there may be the germ of something that might be of value.

Next time, instead of bulldozing your employee’s idea with a cursory “Yeah, but” ask the person for more. “That’s interesting, tell me more.” “How do you see XYZ working? How would it be implemented? Developed?” From there, you can brainstorm with your worker, and out of that effort, a genuinely useful, productive idea may very well be born—along with renewed employee engagement and enthusiasm.


Management Success Tip #47: Use the Power of the Written Word to Increase Your Impact

You know how, when someone writes something down, suddenly it gets all serious? Like when the cop pulls you over, you can banter all you want, but when he pulls out his ticket pad, it’s over. Or the car salesperson can sweet-talk you shamelessly, but when that sales agreement is handed over, it’s the written down parts that determine what comes out of your wallet.

What’s written down always has more impact than the spoken word. If you want to have impact with your employees, write their comments down.

For example, you’re in a team meeting. Instead of just listening with your ears, listen by writing down key points, things your team members say that you deem particularly significant, or worth discussing further.  Your team members will be impressed by the seriousness with which you are taking their thoughts, and as a result, will come up with even better ideas.

Or an employee comes in with a complaint or a problem. Same drill. Make notes, in front of your employee, of the key points or matters for further discussion. Your employee now knows you’re not just giving him or her lip service, as in “Yeah, uh-huh, whatever.” You really are paying attention to what he or she has on their mind—because you wrote it down.

Never underestimate the power of the written word! Use it to increase your impact and effectiveness.

Management Success Tip #46: Before A Crisis Sinks the Company Ship: Turn to Your Employees!

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When the economy whacks your business with a resounding downturn, or a major account disappears, it’s natural to think first of stripping down: tightening the belt on resources, laying off employees, forgoing new projects.

Unfortunately, this approach has an adverse effect on employee morale and motivation, often at the very time you need employees to perform and produce better than ever—with less.

Although it may feel like the only solution (and sometimes may be the only solution), there’s another possibility to consider.

What if this problem became an opportunity to assess how you are currently conducting your business? What if you looked upon the problem as an opportunity to discover new customer needs? To find new and different solutions to customer issues? To create better, more streamlined product and services?

What if you put the problem to your employees in that light? “We’re going through a serious rough patch here. We have two options: downsize everything, or get creative.” Which do you think your employees are going to pick? Which is the more motivating challenge?

Back when SouthWest Airlines was a 4-plane company, and they had to sell off one of their cherished airplanes in order to pay employee salaries, they were faced with the dilemma of how to run a 4-plane route with only 3 planes. It was one of their employees who came up with how to implement a quick turn-around time which became a major reason for SouthWest’s success.

Engage your employees in the problem-solving discussion. Refuse to accept only one answer to your company’s current crisis. Your employees may not come up with “the” answer, but you may be surprised at just how much of “the” answer they do figure out—and how much more committed they are to the company that respected their contributions.

Management Success Tip #45: Craft Emails That Get Action from Your Employees!

Ever wonder why hardly anybody reads the emails you churn out day after day? Why, when you ask “Did you get my email regarding XYZ project,” all you get is a blank stare and a mumbled “Must have gotten caught in my spam folder”?

No, it won’t help to write longer, more explanatory messages. If anything, the longer the email, the less likely it is to get read.

If you want your emails to have impact, follow these guidelines:

1. Keep your message short.

Reduce your email to 3 bullet points. That’s right, 3. You can always elaborate on them later.

2. Put your call to action up front.

Don’t bury your action-call halfway through the email. Make it the first thing your employees see, and make the who, what, when and where of the required action specific and precise.

3. Less is more.

Get your employees used to the importance of reading your emails by sending as few as possible, sending them only when you have something significant to communicate, and sending them only to the individuals who are actually supposed to do something in response.

That’s it! 3 things.

Management Success Tip #44: Be a Hero to Your Employees: Table Your Reactive Emotions!

There are moments when your employees drive you absolutely buggy. OK, more than moments . . . whole weeks at a time, some months. And like any other normally constituted human being, you want to be your “authentic self.”

In other words, you want the freedom to snap at them when they’ve irritated you, express your frustration, even your anger with at the very least increased volume if not strong words and emphatic body language. Sometimes you may sigh with exasperated disappointment, or feel driven to utter desperation.

And yet. . .if you are to be an effective leader, be that of your two-person shop, your department, your team, or your company, you cannot simply let your emotions take over. Yours must always be the cooler head, the one who sets aside emotional reaction in the interests of rational problem-solving.

There’s a reason the “strong silent type” became a prototypical hero. It’s because such a hero represents the ability to withstand internal emotional storms in order to deal most effectively with the problem at hand.

People rely on you. Justify their doing so by tabling your emotions for when you can allow them free rein: in your journal, in your conversations-with-self in the privacy of your bedroom or sharings with a trusted friend or mate. Show your employees and team members your leadership mettle by going directly to what’s important to your business; problem-solving.