A little interest pays big dividends
Teresa, front office coordinator a Northwest healthcare organization, told Session 6 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“I was cautioned when I came into my position not to get too personally involved with the staff I supervise. There was a fear that if I became personally involved with my staff’s outside lives, it would cause a conflict if and when disciplinary action was needed. In the past, when I seemed to know about someone’s personal life, I sometimes failed to apply consistent discipline when it was called for. This resulted in some of my staff, in effect, taking advantage of our friendship. I was shocked to learn how difficult it was to not be everyone’s ‘friend.’ I’ll admit, I had done a bad job. Team members would call in ‘sick’ and brush off being late lightly. Work standards suffered. So I have been hesitant to learn too much personal information about my team members.
“As a result of the Leadership Lab, I decided to bend my ‘don’t get to know’ rule; I chose an employee who in the past has always come to work positive and happy and made her my ‘Pearl.’ I had noticed that over the last few months that she had lost her smile and seemed disconnected. I wanted to reach out and talk to her. I used Leadership Principle #2 – Become Genuinely Interested and Leadership Principle #6 – Be An Active Listener.
“At first she didn’t want to share what had made her demeanor change, so I waited a few days and asked again how things were going. She opened up and told me about a personal issue in her life that she was having difficulty dealing with. I could see an almost immediate shift in her countenance. She seems to be on the way back to the happy, positive person she used to be.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that it’s okay to show a genuine interest
in my team member. It’s empowering to listen to and show interest in team members who seem to be having difficulties. I like my new rule of becoming genuinely interested. The action I call you to take is to talk with and listen to your employees, family members, or anyone needing a listening ear. The benefit you will gain is strengthened trust, better communication, and a greater feeling of personal self-worth.”
I have heard this raging debate for many years – “You can’t be a fair manager if you become too involved with the associates you manage.”
Let’s look at the arguments against becoming friends with those you supervise – it always starts the same way – “I am afraid” - “I am afraid that if I become involved, I won’t be able to hold up high standards or administer discipline if it’s required.” So the real answer is to stamp out fear, develop more confidence, not being aloof, cold, uncaring or disconnected.
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