Management Success Tip #74: Want To Be A More Successful Problem Solver? Solve The Correct Problem!

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You’re a fixer. A problem-solver.  A “Here’s how you do it” kind of person. That’s what managers, supervisors and bosses do.

Which is all well and good, unless you’re fixing the wrong situation, solving the wrong problem, and doing a “Here’s how you do it” on the wrong circumstance.

Too often, you’re in a hurry to get to the “fix” so you don’t necessarily go that one step further to investigate if you’re fixing what needs fixing.

For example, your employee interrupts during team meetings, which disrupts the flow of the meeting and upsets the other team members. You take said employee aside and tell him/her: “Look you can’t interrupt while others are talking during meetings. OK? Wait until the person is done talking, and then it’s your turn.” There. Problem solved.

Of course, the employee still interrupts, even though it’s obvious he or she is trying not to, and at this point, you decide your employee has a difficult personality, and take them off the team.

What might a little bit of investigating have yielded? And what would that have looked like?

Just one more question: “I’ve noticed you interrupt during meetings. What’s that about for you?” So you could listen to the answer: “I have trouble remembering my thoughts if I don’t say them right away.” A very different problem, to which you can give a far more appropriate “fix.” It’s not about “Stop interrupting,” it’s about “Here’s what you can do to keep thoughts in mind.”

Often, all you need to do is ask your employee what something is about for them (not “why do you do that” which simply pushes people’s buttons), to find the true problem that will yield to your successful solution.


Positive Thoughts Lead to Clearer Thinking, More Creativity At Work

A 2010 Psychological Science study found that people in a positive mood do better with cognitive processing than those in a bad or neutral mood. A positive mood improves your brain’s ability to think clearly, make sound decisions as well as increase your creativity.

The physiological back story is simple. Brain research shows that thinking negative thoughts, especially thoughts of fear and anger, restricts blood flow to critical portions of your brain. Thinking positive thoughts increases blood flow to those same critical areas. Your brain requires good blood flow to function. The connection is obvious: restricted blood flow, restricted thinking; generous blood flow, enhanced thinking.

Gearing your mind toward the positive doesn’t mean walking through life with blinders on, but instead means emphasizing the positive side of things. Say you’re the boss and an employee is having trouble getting up to speed on new software. The employee is willing to work with a mentor to get it right. Focus on the worker’s willingness to learn, rather on being slow to ramp up.”

Frustration over budgets is often a challenge to staying positive at work. If  your department’s budget does not allow  you to obtain resources you believe would be a big assist, focus on your employees’ ability to come up with viable work-arounds even as you do all that you can to round up those resources. Negative situations don’t have to stop you cold. They often just require creativity–a valuable asset to have that’s suppressed when you’re in a foul mood.

Try consciously to have a positive outlook over the next week at work. See if you notice a difference in the way you feel about yourself and how other people react to you. You’ll experience an immediate calming effect and tough decisions won’t come with the regular angst and anxiety.

Management Success Tip #73: Team Conflict: Good, Bad Or Just Plain Ugly? defines conflict as “to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash.”

Most of the time, you want your team members on the same page – certainly with you, and preferably with each other. Would that it were so . . . Human nature being what it is however, conflict in the terms defined above is inevitable when humans come together to accomplish something. We are not ants or bees, we do not function with a group mind, much as you might sometimes wish your employees did!

But there is a world of difference between destructive and constructive conflict.

Destructive conflict is personal, meant to demean or in some way damage, and it never contributes to a solution. Common destructive conflict in the team setting is name-calling, putting down another’s idea without due consideration, scape-goating, and the like.

Constructive conflict is when team members have points of view or ideas that differ from yours, and/or from each other. Constructive conflict is terrific! Make it easy, even desirable for team members to explore their different perspectives in the context of the team meeting. Give equal opportunity air-time to all those whose ideas differ, not just to the ideas that – on the surface – resonate most with yours. Actively look for the benefit within all of your team members’ ideas to the project at hand.

The more you foster constructive conflict, even as you disallow destructive conflict, the more value you will receive from your teams.

Management Success Tip #72: A Simple Secret To Improved Employee Productivity: Walk Your Talk!

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Regardless of the number of people you manage, be they a few or the many, you set the tone, you set the pace, you set the standard by which your employees will behave.

And when you don’t walk your talk, performance and productivity suffer.

One of the key differences revealed by the recent Boedker study of more than 5600 people across 77 organizations, between high-performing workplaces and organizations in which productivity and profitability are below average, is that managers in high-performing workplaces have clear values and practice what they preach.

All your employee-motivating speeches about promptness, timeliness, and the importance of deadlines won’t mean squat if you aren’t prompt, timely and respect deadlines.

Your request for innovative ideas from your employees won’t bear fruit if you summarily dismiss, fail to take seriously, or simply ignore, employee contributions.

From infancy on up, we model what we see, what we observe, far more than what we are told to do.

Be whatever behavior you wish to see in your employees, and you’ll find the few words you need to use will carry far greater weight.

Management Success Tip #71: Not All Under-Performers Are Created Equal: Nurture Your Good-Performers-In-The-Making!

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Managers typically don’t like to deal with under-performers. After all, what’s more fun: congratulating your super-star on his/her latest achievement? Or dunning an employee for yet AGAIN, not getting it right.

Under-performers get short shrift in the honest-feedback department. Mostly because you’d rather get rid of them than nurture them into good performance. And certainly, there are those who are just not a fit for the job. However, don’t punish those who are a decent fit, by giving them less than your best.

Be honest. Tell your under-performing employee what, specifically, they are doing that’s not up to par. Then, give them a chance to improve. Give them an opportunity to take a seminar, assign a buddy/mentor to them. Tell them what positive traits or abilities you observe that your under-performing employee can bring to bear in their area of challenge: perhaps it’s their persistence, or their attention to detail, or their willingness to learn.

Be interested in their development. Check in to see how they’re doing. Find out what their personal career goals are and foster those. The more you show an active, genuine interest in your under-performer’s own goals, the more likely they are to want to demonstrate active, genuine interest in yours.