Are you currently managing a team of employees? Do you constantly find the everyday struggle of shepherding people to stay on task to be a Sisyphean struggle? Do you find the mention of the name Sisyphus confusing and annoying? Well if you answered yes to each of these three questions then this business coaching diary post was made for you, my friend! If you do find yourself managing a staff of 3 to 10 or even more employees, then you, much like myself, have discovered by this point that this is no easy task. Employees can be fragile, delicate, or even somewhat difficult creatures. Effectively managing a team can at times seem like the ultimate exercise in futility, but fear not true believers, all hope is not lost. One of the most important things that I learned this week while business coaching is that not all employees can be managed the same. Once you realize this, the responsibility of managing becomes all the more executable and frankly so much easier. This epiphany came to me this week, but also bleeds into the many management struggles as well as the management skills I’ve acquired over time. This week I found myself having to have a difficult conversation with a group of employees. After all, what most people don’t realize is that two thirds of managing a team is putting out burning fires and having awkward conversations. Can I get a witness? No… Okay, moving on. As I walk you through the issues I had to face as a business coach and the lessons I learned coming out on the other side alive, try to think of the last time you experienced a similar situation. How did you handle it? What could you have done to avoid any negative outcomes?
Managing a team of multiple personalities
When I’m not handling business coaching clients one of my other job descriptions is to serve as a behind the scenes manager for another one of Clay’s businesses. It’s my job to help keep the team’s morale high through random acts of kindness, as well as to identify any burning fires or any elements of odd behavior that need to be addressed. Quite frankly, I love this job. I find assisting people and helping them to grow and better themselves to be extremely rewarding. However, this position also comes with the responsibility of having to have difficult conversations when the occasion arises. This can be extra difficult when that conversation has to include multiple parties that have different views, values, and personalities This is the exact situation I found myself in this past week. So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation? You use all of the following tools to see you through to a successful end.
Flow and adapt, or bend and snap
One of the most important things I learned this week was how to deliver honest feedback while still instilling growth principles and remaining likable. It’s natural to want to attack any management issue head-on and at full steam; however, it is important to realize that not everybody can be spoken to on the same level. Some require direct mentorship, some require a swift kick in the pants, while others need a more gentle and nurturing approach. For this particular conversation, I needed to strategize on who my audience was and how they could comprehend feedback. So after some guidance from my spiritual guru Jonathan Kelly, I had my game plan. Begin with positive reinforcement. Step one was to let them know everything that they were doing well, stack the compliments, and play to each of their strengths as well as their strengths as a group. Step two was to provide evidence to support the behavior that needed to be corrected. While the evidence was the same among the three parties, each one had to hear it in their own specific way in order to be fully receptive of it. I needed to find the wavelength that they communicate on and mirror that for each employee to be the most effective. After the supporting evidence was provided, step three was to listen to each of their concerns in response to this information and to metaphorically allow each one to fire off all of their bullets. Meaning I needed to take in all of their feedback while not looking defensive, and take notes so that each one knew I was truly listening. After that I let them know that their concerns regarding the matter were understood and heard and that they would also be addressed for their benefit. By successfully executing these three steps I was able to make them feel comfortable from the jump so that they could receive the feedback better, use tangible data to get my point across, and allow for them to respond in a manner that didn’t derail the conversation or have the original message get lost in the shuffle.
One of the most important things that I learned this week while business coaching is that not all employees can be managed the same.
Steps one through three would not have worked if I had used the same tone and execution for all of the employees as a whole. Rather, I had to play to my strengths with each on an individual level, and use that to appeal to reason amongst the group. So often we as managers try to force each employee into the same camp and utilize a universal form of management to make our jobs easier. But the one thing I took away from all of this is that no two employees are exactly alike, and more often than not, my management style needs to be tweaked for each member of my business coaching team.