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A few of my team had been asking me about helping train them on what it means to be a great manager. I created and am teaching a 8 week workshop with them on this subject. (If there is interest, I may do it for the industry, much as PCG has done the ZMOt and SEO studies. Will keep you posted.)
As managers, we all have that moment of reflection, whether we will admit it to anyone, where we take some time to be honest with ourselves and begin to grade ourselves as a manager.
If one took the time to write this “reflection” down and review it, would you give yourself high marks in all categories or would there be a certain aspects of your skillset that needs work. Then the next question is, what would you do with this information, but that is for another time.
After our group of new manager candidates finished their work on goal setting, the second exercise I asked them to do was to take a piece of paper (please do so yourself) and split it down the middle. On the left side they were to write down the positive traits of managers they worked for in the past. On the right, negative traits.
I set the time to accomplish this at 5 minutes and after the initial smirks and private jokes they set down to the task. As we began to discuss what they had written, the feedback was immediate and engaging. They all felt it was easier to write negative traits because they were more obvious. “Ignored your ideas “ Cut you off” “Always blamed you when things went wrong”
When we moved on to the positive traits of their past managers, the feedback changed. Some had a hard time communicating the positive traits into what they felt was the appropriate words. Many of them relied on using words that reflected how they felt versus the actionable words they used for the negative actions. Their answers were more “feeling” adjectives. “They were nice”, “We had fun”, “Pleasant” “Always seemed Calm”
I remarked that every time I do this exercise with a group the list of negative aspects are more plentiful and easier to come by. I believe we remember the negative because it caused us some pain and we had a stronger reaction to this. We all agree we liked the nicer managers but for some reason they are not as memorable.
Now that we had our lists, I told the team that one of the easiest first steps to becoming a good manager was to make sure you NEVER do what you wrote as negative traits on the sheet. I am a firm believer that we are all like the people we manage. If something bugs us, it will bug others so don’t do it.
Did you like it when the manager did not listen to you? Then make sure you allow your team to speak their mind and explain themselves before you react.
Did you like it when the manager just blamed you? Then make sure when things do not go as planned; you take the time to examine what happened without passing judgment.
I mentioned to the team that they should also emulate traits from the positive side of their list. We will be reviewing how to take these traits from the page and put them into action in our next session.
Their homework (as is yours) for this week was to take the time to watch how you are interacting with others. Past managers impact us all. We unknowingly perceive their actions as what a manager should be. It is not until we take responsibility for our own management style that we review what we are doing and what we want to be.
Make sure you are not emulating the bad traits of previous managers without even realizing it.
Let me know your thoughts.