It’s easy to be a good manager. It’s easy to be the boss that everyone likes. It’s even easy to create a winning team. When the economy is good and business is booming, all of this stuff is easy. However, when the economy turns, sales drop off. Decreased sales mean greater competition for the small amount of business that is out there. This all leads to pressure in the system. Unlike good coffee percolators, pressure has a nasty way in companies of flowing down. Most managers, “manage” pressure in the system by distributing it amongst their staff. This is where good managers have a chance to shine. This is where good managers can become great managers.
So, as with everything in life, difficulties come to test us and give us an opportunity to show what we are made of. Corporate life, unfortunately can dehumanise the process. All too often we turn to managing by the way we are managed. If we are screamed at, we scream at our staff. If we are belittled in the board meeting, we turn to belittling our staff in our team meetings. We try and fit into what seems to be the corporate culture of the day. And here lies the opportunity to go from good to great.
In order to turn this around, you as the manager need to be aware. This awareness needs to be in two areas, an external awareness and an internal awareness.
Firstly, externally, be aware of the stress and pressure that your up-line manager (your boss) is under. Understanding his/her emotions in light of this awareness sheds some light on the situation. Empathy makes a world of difference, and an understanding from your side will shift the dynamic. Next, shift inward, you need to understand your own emotions. How do you feel when pressure is placed on you? Do you feel your blood pressure rising? Do you start raising your voice? Can you see things spiraling out of control as tensions increase. Alternatively, do you perhaps shut down? Take it all and show no reaction, saying it does not affect you, and then take it out on your staff, spouse, and the dog when you get home.
The second area of internal awareness is an understanding of what this time of increased stress is doing to you. How do you feel about going into your meetings? Can you feel your agitation? More importantly, how are you managing the stress that is being placed on you? When we realise that we can’t control others emotions, but more importantly we realise we have control over our own emotions, stress has a way of dissipating. We also can control our activities and focus on beneficial stress reducing activities e.g. exercise, deep breathing techniques, and meditation. These activities raise our resilience to stressful situations.
Lastly, move back to an external focus and give some thought to your staff’s and colleagues emotions. Always work toward the outcome you want to achieve. If you want motivated staff, then you need to keep them motivated and focused. Instead of threats, manage with shared goals and celebrate small achievements. Offer encouragement and explain the pressure in the system and how they can help to alleviate it. Nothing motivates more than seeing the goal and knowing where they are on the road towards it. So find a visual way of depicting this and keep everyone informed. Keep in mind that you need to manage in the way that is effective regardless of how you are managed.
So buck the trend, don’t fall in line and perpetuate the style of the day. If it is not working to motivate you, you can be damn sure it’s not working to motivate your staff either. So take charge of the situation. Create your life.
These internal and external aspects of awareness are the major branches of emotional intelligence. If you would like more information why not book my talk “The Emotional Advantage” for your management team and give your company the competitive edge.