First of all, do you like the picture? this is what manure looks like if it’s happily managed. So what does that mean exactly?
I don’t know how many of you reading this blog read Building Magazine’s recent article “Trouble at the Top” (11.04.2014) about how bad managers can have a big impact on staff morale and productivity levels and could even pose a serious threat to the industry’s upturn.
The article was based on a recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) which found that only one in three of us are positive about the performance of the people who manage us in the workplace. It should be noted that this does not just refer to the construction industry but I am sure the majority of us will have experienced this at some stage in our careers. Across all sectors of the economy the CMI found that 74% of managers lack empathy when making decisions and fail to consider the impact of their choices on the wellbeing and interests of colleagues and they also found that 80% of employees don’t think their manager sets a good example.
One of the things I have been thinking about for a while is that the industry needs more of the ‘softer’ skills and we need to move away from thinking that to get the most out of people, managers have to be tough and demanding. Time for some warm and fuzziness which is why I started writing this blog in the first place!
Enter the manure. I concept I came up with whilst sitting in my neighbour’s house having a coffee and a flapjack, we need to ‘manage the manure‘.
How many times have you had manure cascaded down on you from above and then passed it straight down the line to your team. Or, from the side when a design team member is pointing the finger and you immediately turn round and look at who you can direct it to. Or, a Client isn’t happy with something and looks to you to direct some manure in someone else’s direction. Sound familiar? Either way it’s a shower of…….. and does not make for good working relationships.
In whatever role we do whether we are managers or we are managing ourselves we need to manage the manure, but how? If you are a manager you are there to lead your team, it’s human nature to think, well if I’m getting showered, I’m going to direct it straight down the line, but if you take a step back for 5 minutes to think about what needs to be done before wading in, you would get much better results.
Asking open questions also helps the situation, these are the types of questions we ask in coaching such as, can you tell me a bit more about….. can you talk to me about……. are you aware of…….. what was the thought process behind……..
One of the things we learnt on my coaching course was not to start a question with why, immediately you are closing the conversation down and making someone feel like they need to defend their actions rather than expand their thinking.
This approach may sound wishy washy to some and there is certainly a time and a place for assertiveness but I would encourage you to think about your approach and that it doesn’t necessarily fit all situations.
Food for thought for a Monday and don’t forget to put up those umbrellas when the proverbial comes flying to stop the cascade!