Working Dynamics



April 2006  


Welcome to the quarterly Working Dynamics Newsletter. Our goal is to highlight what each of us can do to have stronger work relationships, communicate more effectively, and manage conflict constructively in our work lives.

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Susan Gunn, Working Dynamics

In this issue...

  • Call it what you want ...
  • Most managers have two things in common
  • Coaching employees: The 80/20 rule
  • Go ahead, ask for it

Most managers have two things in common

Despite a wide variety of management styles, most managers have two things in common. They're pretty sure they aren't micro-managers, and most have micro-managed somebody sometime.

If you're a manager who micro-manages, you're probably trying as hard as you can to help your organization meet its responsibilities. Still, you may feel that people are unhappy — that whatever you're doing isn't working. There is another way.

Some of us know that we micro-manage; others wonder (or have no clue). Here are four warning signs of micro-management:

  • When you give a task, you feel a strong need to specify or approve it exactly.
  • You feel unsure about your understanding of what your people do, but you think you're concealing it pretty well.
  • You require status reports far more frequently than you need for constructive intervention.
  • You're so busy that delays happen frequently, while people wait for your input or signoff.

If two or more of these indicators fit you, you probably feel you're coping in the best way you can with the shortcomings of the people you supervise. In reality, you'd be better off to handle incompetence with training, transfer, reassignment, or relacement.

Sometimes, simply stepping out of the way works. Usually, if you just let people do their jobs, and let them make some mistakes, you'll be delighted with the results.

Read "There Are No Micro-Managers" by Rick Benner of Chaco Canyon Consulting by following the link below.

Full article with six tips to managing without micro-managing...


Coaching employees: The 80/20 rule

More than likely, there isn't a person on your team who isn't interested in growing in order to do a better job today and be ready for more in the future. As team leader or manager, you are in an ideal position to identify those needs and choose a coach for the individual or take on the role yourself. When coaching employees to take on new behaviors, here are a few tips.

1) Create the Right Climate. Employees will respond to a coach who has attended to the following:

  • Mutual trust — demonstrate on a regular basis that your word is good, you are worthy of confidence, and you won't disclose confidential information.
  • Accountability — expect effort and accomplishment from the individual; express expectations in measurable quantities.
  • Motivation to learn and improve — learn what motivates the individual you are coaching (often the possibility of advancement, job insecurity, peer pressure, or eagerness to learn something new or move onto a more challenging job are motivators).

2) Put on your "coaching hat." Remember that coaching is 20 percent speaking and 80 percent listening. In your primary role at work, you are probably expected to explain, direct, instruct, give directions, and answer -- all speaking roles! Don't fall into the poor listening trap or you'll be less effective at coaching than you want (and other roles will suffer too).

Listening guidelines ...


Go ahead, ask for it

Asking others for feedback is one of the most difficult tasks in the feedback process. Yet, it is incredibly valuable. To make it worthwhile, you want good information. The quality of what you hear and how much you hear depends on how you ask for it.

There is no point in asking if what you receive is vague feedback that leaves you unsure what new behavior to take on, what you should stop, or what you should continue. To ensure you'll receive feedback you can actually use, ask using this framework:

  1. Situation. Begin by asking where and when the specific behavior occurred. Ask "Briefly describe the situation and setting where the behavior occurred."
  2. Behavior. Next ask about the characteristics, observable actions, verbal and nonverbal behaviors that need to be changed or improved. "Include as many details as you can, not only about what I said or did, buy also about how I said it or did it."
  3. Impact. Finally, you want to learn the consequences of the behavior — what the person thinks or feels and how the behavior affects others. Ask "How did you feel about what I did (or said)?"

It isn't easy to ask for feedback, but it pays off every time! Review resources like Ongoing Feedback: How to Get It, How to Use It by Karen Kirkland and Sam Manoogian for more tips.

Tips and examples of how to ask for feedback...


Call it what
you want ...

It is still conflict. We seem to have a very complicated relationship with the word "conflict." Some people say "Our organization doesn't have conflict!" or "I can't give you feedback on how you handle conflict, because I've NEVER seen you in conflict." Those comments are classic examples of the most commonly used method of managing conflict — AVOIDANCE.

In reality, we all experience conflict — quite likely daily. Conflict is inevitable. We call it different things, however. Perhaps for some, the word itself, "conflict" may sound dire, serious, or too negative. Or perhaps they feel saying they are involved in conflict situations will imply that they are not effective or successful in their work. Interestingly, here are some words used by workshop participants to describe conflict in the workplace:

  • incompatibility
  • loss of control
  • confrontation
  • conundrum
  • knot in the stomach
  • rough
  • misreading
  • misunderstanding
  • chaos
  • bogged down

And ...

  • challenge
  • disharmony
  • change
  • every day life
  • pettiness
  • impediment
  • out of control
  • elephant in the room
  • retaliation

Recognizing that all conflict isn't negative, some workshop participants use words like: constructive, searching, courage, fascinating, creativity, stimulating, and transformative.

Whatever we call it, we need to keep conflict channeled in a constructive path. Poorly handled, conflict (however you define it), can result in negativity and has the potential to be toxic in your worklife. Call it what you like, but learn how to manage it to your advantage.

Read more about Conflict Dynamics Assessment and Consulting and call us for a confidential discussion ...

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