The perception of caring
I coach quite a few healthcare professionals including administrators. I have noticed that some more than others have values closely linked to the idea of caring or patient outcomes. Others operate more from a “getting things done” perspective, thinking more about the processes of healthcare then the patient-centric view (neither is “better” no judgements here, just observations). I think the same can be applied to how managers work with their reports. Read on to hear my views on how managers can be perceived (usually incorrectly) as not caring about the feelings of their reports.
The following five “mistakes” are simply a summary of what I have observed when I work with managers and their teams. I have a unique perspective from both sides of the table (manager and report), seeing how inter-personal differences of opinion can develop from these 5 simple management mistakes related to feeling cared for.
MISTAKE 1: not appreciating other personality types
Are you a thinker or feeler? Are your reports thinkers or feelers? Do you have no idea what I am talking about? Myers-Briggs is a personality typing assessment tool which helps us understand our style of working. If you think your way through the world you use logic as your primary input into decision-making. If you are a feeler you use more emotion in making decisions. Can you see the risk here..?
If a thinker is managing a feeler often the feeler does not feel felt (perceives their manager as not caring).
Mitigation: know your and your reports’ type and manage accordingly with self-awareness of your bias.
MISTAKE 2: not taking time to build whole-of-person relations
This sounds ridiculously simple but the number of managers I coach that do NOT invest in getting to know their direct reports and then come to me saying they are stuck in managing underperformance indicates to me that this is a quick fix for a lot of “people” issues.
Often people are so busy managing up and knowing what will “please” the person they report to that they neglect to do the same downwards, wrongly thinking that organisational title gives them the power to control people’s behaviour without having to get to know the “whole person” that reports to them. A whole person includes what motivates them in and out of work, now and into the future, mind, body, spirit. A key indicator of whether you have a “whole person” relationship with a direct report or your manager is if you can discuss your dreams and ambitions that may result in you leaving your current role or even the organisation. Having this level of openness and transparency will resolve most people issues related to being an “uncaring” manager.
MISTAKE 3: not allowing emotions in the workplace
Another key sign that indicates you have whole-of-person relations is your ability to talk about emotions in the workplace (yours with your manager and your reports with you). People get upset when they are treated like robots (just resources to get stuff done). Emotions are a key indicator to someone’s beliefs/values, look out for them as signals to deeper issues. Ignore or repress emotions at your peril as people will not feel that it is safe to be authentic at work (showing emotion is very human). Obviously what I’m NOT saying is that being consistently over-emotional is appropriate in the workplace. The ability to control/manage your emotions is a key component of emotional intelligence, a key indicator of leadership.
MISATAKE 4: not allowing failure (learning)
If you have a zero failure policy your manager will love you but your team may feel they have no say in their development or “how” they do their work. Not letting people fail and learn means you do not trust your team or do not want to invest the time to support your people to learn. This may sound harsh but it is a consistent mistake I see especially in very smart achievement-orientated administrators.
The implied message here is that results are more important then the growth of your staff. The major challenge that this approach results in is the manager’s inability to rise above the operations of his/her work and lead more strategically. This is because they are so hands-on and in-the-trees that they cannot rise above the noise and see the bigger picture.
MISTAKE 5: not delegating properly
This mistake is related to the previous three. Delegation is not just giving people things to do. I think delegation is a big deal, so much so I made a short video presentation about performance management and delegation in Healthcare (check it out here).
People will perceive you as uncaring if you simply dump work on and then “kick their shins” when it isn’t done how you wanted. Harvard Business Review authors see delegation as an opportunity for the development of your staff. Best practice is to give people a task NOT telling them how to do it, but supporting them to learn their way to get the agreed end result. Check out the video for the full best-practice step-by-step guide.
Show that you care in your way
It is my belief that if you can avoid these five basic mistakes that a lot of your people issues will be averted, leading to more harmonious and productive work. Whether you adopt a patient-centred, caring approach or are more of a process-driven administrator should not matter as long as your team feel and can see you are taking steps to show that you do care (in your own way).