If you ask people to share a piece of life-changing advice they’ve received from a manager, you might hear a few noteworthy pearls of wisdom. However, you are more likely to find that what typically sticks with someone is not the particular pieces of information that were shared, but how a manager presented the advice.
Here’s why. A manager’s ability to influence employees is, first and foremost, related to the manager’s ability to manage him or herself. Managers often botch “teachable moments” because their message is mixed with an expression of anger or frustration. When messages are delivered in this manner, without consideration for the individual and the situation, it can create the opposite of the desired effect.
Here are three ways managers can get employees to focus on the content of their advice (and even enjoy the way the advice was delivered).
- Teach instead of finding fault. Rather than going on the attack, assume an employee who just made a mistake is ready to learn. Walk the employee through the steps of doing the task right and try to uncover areas where the person may be unclear on what to do.
- Solve instead of pointing fingers. Problems are inevitable in business. If you’ve got an employee who is causing a problem, make sure the person understands why the situation needs to be addressed and involve them in finding an acceptable solution.
- Facilitate instead of taking sides. It’s hard to find a work team where there isn’t conflict. The best managers avoid being dragged into the drama. They use their communication skills to make sure all employees are heard and disagreements are handled respectfully.
A manager’s best skill is self-management—because it’s only when we know how to manage our own reactionary tendencies that we can truly be a leader who inspires others.
Recommended Training Videos: To be successful, managers must recognize and put into practice behaviors that inspire people, rather than alienate them. These videos illustrate what it takes to motivate positive employee performance: Would I Work For Me? (Manufacturing Setting); Would I Follow Me? (Office Setting).