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Posts Tagged ‘managing

A few weeks into a new job, disillusionment . . .

It’s inevitable. A few weeks into a new job, the honeymoon passes, and we have our first ‘fight’.

Except, that unlike a relationship where we have mutual responsibility for getttng through a fight safely, at work, at work the blame usually falls on the employee. We get extremely anxious about this unwelcome feeling that our job sucks and that we have made a very bad move!

Temporary disillusionment is 100% predictable

In a well run firm, this should not happen. The crisis will happen ~ it is called storming, from the forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning sequence of group formation.

Every new relationship, whether personal or business, will go through a crisis of confidence as surely as the sun comes up in the morning.

What should happen, when we are running ourselves well, is that we wait for the storming. We even look forward to it, because storming marks the progress from the milling around of forming to “getting down to work”. We storm when we start working and we say “is this it? Is this worthwhile?”

Note well: we don’t have an anxiety attach until we start work! If there has been no storming, surely as the sun comes up, the employee is still in the forming stage. They still expect you to take all the responsibility and are yet to make the job their own. So welcome storming ~ even if sometimes it takes you by surprise!

How to manage storming when you are the manager

Your role as a manager, when storming begins, is not to panic!  The first sign of an inexperienced (untrained, unsupported) manager is that they take the storming personally, or ignore it.

The employee is serious. He, or she, has issues. And they want reassurance. Is this job worthwhile? Your task is to remain calm and through that calmness, show you confidence in three things

  • The doability of the project
  • Your competence to lead the project
  • & The employee’s competence to play the role that they were appointed to play.

Hesitate, show your own fears, panic, doubt the employee ~ and you confirm the employee’s worst fears. Your panic says to him (or her) that you also do not believe that this company, this team, this boss is not up to this job.

Please be calm and show confidence that all will work. And of course, if there is a specific issue, sort it out with equal calm and dispatch.

Task-oriented and socially-oriented reports

Now to make our lives a little difficult, employees don’t storm at the same points. They storm when they start working and different details will set off alarm bells.

One thing we can be sure of, though, is that highly task-oriented individuals storm earlier.  Some will stat storlming before they arrive! Early stormers are more conscientious and results-oriented and consequently start questioning details early.   Budget some energy for being the anchor they need and be thankful you have hired a workhorse!

Very sociable people are the opposite. They have to get their social bearings before they start work (just as task people must get their task bearings before they get social). They may take an interminable time to get down to work and they will take longer if you push them. When they are ready, they will begin; and they too will get a fright and storm.  And maybe they start stormin months after the task-oriented individuals – so allow for it. Remain calm. That is what they are looking for. If you panic, if you believe they are attacking you, you will confirm their worst fears – that they are in the wrong job at the wrong time in the wrong place with the wrong people. Be calm.

How to manage your own storming

Now if you are in not-so-well-run firm and there is no one to calm you down when you start to panic, you are going to have to calm yourself down.

I’ve tried to make a heuristic for an individual to manage their own storming. Anyone? This one defeats me. After all, if I became involved as a coach/counsellor, I would a) calm down the report b) show the confidence the manager neglected to show and c) calm down the manager!

Maybe try this:

  • Draw out the work process
  • Mark every part that works quite well and you should continue
  • Mark out every process that worries you and try to understand why the firm manages that process the way they do
  • Keep your own counsel
  • Be calm because calmness seems to be lacking around here

Hope that helps!  Remember it is normal to have an anxiety attack shortly after the ‘honeymoon’.  It means you care.  It means you’ve started to deal with detail of the job!  Enjoy!

Psychologists know that IQ matters at work

I am a work & organizational psychologist and I might even administer an intelligence test to you if you apply to one of my clients.  I can promise you one thing.

No matter who the client is, or what they do, it will matter if your IQ were 25% higher or lower.  That is an big enough change to be important.

Psychologists are also learning that rejection is devastating to our ability to think straight

Yet, the way we are managed affects our IQ by that amount – 25%.  According to Ray Baumeister, all of the following will cause your IQ to plummet by that amount.

  • If you suffer from subtle slights because you are a member of a minority.  Being called ‘girl’, being excluded from social events, not being looked at squarely in the eye – all will reduce your IQ.  You can think of others.
  • Feeling that your employment is insecure, will reduce your IQ.
  • Not being consulted on matters that affect you will reduce your IQ.

So why do managers manage this way if IQ falls so precipitously?

Most likely because bad management is like a neurosis.  If I am scared of snakes, then I won’t go near them and I will never learn how to interact with them safely.

Bad managers become anxious about performance, snarl and snap, and make their staff anxious.  And performance falls confirming their worst expectations.  Rinse and repeat and they never learn how to manage well.

But is it right that managers are allowed to assault people psychologically?

Not IMHO.  Employing people does not confer the right of psychological assault.

Reducing people’s IQ by 25% does not just affect their behavior at work either.  It affects their driving, their parenting, and their understanding of wider issues.

Big firms who use psychological tests should be asked to show that they are not assaulting their staff.  That is a regulatory burden I know, but I understand that Scandavian countries have ‘happiness’ legislation in place.

I’ve also worked in places where the ethos is that ‘if you can’t afford to employ, then don’t’.

25% reduction in IQ is a shocking number ~ but there is a plus side.

Manage well, and you have a competitive advantage of 25% of IQ!

A cheerful staff who feel they belong will turn into innovation, creativity, problem solving, fewer errors and better ideas.

That’s money in our pockets.  I hope Baumeister also experiments with the reverse proposition.  Create a sense of belonging and show higher team performance!

What do HR Managers do?

What do HR Managers do?  Who do IT Managers do?  What do any staff managers and trusted subordinates contribute to the leadership of an organization?

What does the boss do and what should subordinates and staff managers do?

While I have been in the UK, I have been struck by the confusion and discomfort that local HR practitioners feel over their role in the management team.

Learn from Henry Kissinger about advising the boss

People who do feel under appreciated, or who are looking for better ways to describe their role, may enjoy this piece by Henry Kissinger, where he describes the relationships between the members of the ‘security team’ at the White House – the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary for Defense and the National Security Adviser.

The contribution of the National Security Adviser seems to mirror my understanding of the HR function.

  • “to ensure that no policy fails for reasons that could have been foreseen but were not and that no opportunity is missed for lack of foresight.”
  • “takes care that the president is given all relevant options and that the execution of policy [by various departments] reflects the spirit of the original decision.”
  • “insisting — if necessary — on additional or more complete options or on more precision in execution”

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.


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