Management Success Tip #102: Be a Smarter Leader: Heed Your Workers In the Trenches

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The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” has been shortened to “It takes a village” and often refers more generally to the now well-accepted truth that it takes more than one of us to accomplish anything of genuine significance.

Or, as team-building expert & Trailblaze founder David M. Dye so succinctly states:

“All of us are (usually) smarter than one of us. Crowdsourcing has demonstrated this truth in many ways. From Wikipedia to finding untapped veins of ore to locating a good moving company, the reality of collective intelligence is hard to ignore.

“The most knowledgeable, super-intelligent person on earth still only knows an infinitesimal amount compared to the sum of human knowledge.

“If you want to be a smarter leader: Stop trying to make all the decisions on your own and tap into the power of your team.

“The people with the most up-to-date knowledge for whatever your organization does are not the managers – they are the people doing the work.”

Huzzah! I can hear employees all over the nation applauding Dye’s last statement: the people in the trenches are the ones who know the most about what’s going on, and what needs to be going on, in your workplace.

Heed them. Ask your employees for their thoughts on how to make things better, what they need, how they think resources could be obtained, customers more satisfied, the lot.

You will not only benefit from the answers, you’ll have happier, more productive, more engaged, employees.

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Management Success Tip #101: Hear Your Frustrated Employee Out Before Offering Solutions

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One of most managers’ least favorite things to do is deal with an upset employee. I don’t mean a politely upset employee, I mean an hysterical, ranting, out-of-their-ordinary-mind employee.

Mark Goulston M.D., business psychiatrist, has some wise words for how to help someone vent:

“It’s hard to know what to do when someone is ranting. A lot of people will try to jump in and give advice. Others freeze up and just sit there silently. Neither of those approaches will help the person get the negative emotions out and move on (which is what she needs most). Next time someone is bending your ear about a problem, try asking questions.

“Start by probing into what she’s most frustrated about. If you ask about her feelings, it often sounds condescending. Asking about frustration is less judgmental. Listen and gather more details about the problem. Once she’s vented her feelings, she’ll be in a better place to think about potential solutions. When people are upset, it matters less what you tell them than what you enable them to tell you.”

Truer words were never spoken! When we’re in the grip of heartfelt emotion, we need most to be heard. Facilitate your employee’s appropriate disclosure of what’s frustrating him or her, and once heard, your employee will be far more receptive to a rational discussion of what needs to be done.