Trains in London are often delayed so rather than stressing in queues, I immediately divert to the nearest coffee shop. This week, I witnessed there the very best and very worse of managers in less than 20min! Today I share how – let’s call him “Bad Boss” – brought a grown man to tears in a few minutes.
You’ll find out why it is critical to have regular, weekly 1:1 with your Directs but also how to set Objectives and Delegate Tasks and How to Feedback.
What I saw reminded me of The Office on Appraisals – and how not to do it! This would be funny if this never happened to anyone in real-life! (fast forward to 2min42s!)
So this customer, a 40-something Bad Boss had maybe the right intention, meeting his Direct (older) for an update. Unfortunately for the Direct, the positives stopped there! What happened next showed all the characteristics of the Bad Boss!
His Direct had already been waiting, nervously, at the coffee table; not a good sign. When the Bad Boss arrived, he focused immediately on what he wanted out of that meeting, apparently some kind of sales forecast. The Direct started by sharing an update on background but the Bad Boss wasn’t listening: he just wanted the figures. And he wanted to see them on a computer spreadsheet. When the Direct was unable to produce a laptop with the spreadsheet, he exploded about the Direct’s assumed incompetence – causing everyone in the coffee shop to pause their discussions – Off topic, the Bad Boss launched into trying to tell the Direct how to create the kind of report he wanted and was “expecting”; with a puzzled Direct, the Bad Boss continued yelling and verbally abusing the Direct with swearing before plunging his head in despair for a good couple of minutes into his hands – to the extreme discomfort of the Direct. The final blow was standing up over the Direct, pointing his finger and telling him he would do the report himself in 5 minutes and stormed out of the coffee shop, leaving a shocked Direct at the table. The Direct left a few minutes later with a heavy load on his shoulders and tears.
So what’s to learn from this tragic coffee shop experience?
#1 Meet your Directs
It was clear this Bad Boss Sales Manager didn’t put much thoughts in arranging the meeting with his Direct and failed on several points:
- The meeting was arranged for the Bad Boss’s convenience, not for the Direct;
- Consider When is the most appropriate time to regularly meet with your Direct
- Consider the Location so you can focus on the Direct. A very busy and noisy public coffee shop in London Waterloo station probably isn’t allowing you or the Direct to comfortably build a relationship. If meeting face to face is a challenge, consider using the phone or Skype!
- He wasn’t prepared, had no notes to follow-up from his last meeting and not surprisingly, the Direct wasn’t prepared either.
- He didn’t listen to his Direct! He mis-understood that this meeting is about the Direct, and his Development.
#2 How to Feedback
While this meeting with his Direct could have been a great opportunity for development, Bad Boss didn’t know how to feedback:
- He didn’t ask permission to share feedback first. This is critical to secure engagement from the Direct
- Feedback in public is never a good idea, especially if it is going to be negative!
- Verbal abuse is simply unacceptable
- If you are seeking improvement, encourage effective behaviours rather than pointing out the mistakes.
- If you are angry, don’t give feedback
- With the poor Direct in tears, Bad Boss clearly failed to address the behaviour and more importantly also failed to impact future behaviours.
#3 How to set Objectives
Now, considering the Direct was so confused about what was expected, you have to wonder how the objectives were set!
- Goals are often defined as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound). This sounds good but most people don’t do this well. Do the minimum and make them Measurable (clear yes/no result) and Time-bound (“by insert date”) at least. See this post to define career and life goals.
- Don’t put yourself under pressure, plan for completion at end of Q3 to deal with changes such as this Bad Boss changing requirements.
#4 How to Delegate Tasks
Let’s assume Bad Boss had clearly defined the goal. Did he delegate the tasks effectively?
- Did he state the need for help?
- Did he say why he’d asked his Direct to help with this particular task to help with his development?
- Did he get the commitment from his Direct first?
- Was the particular task described in detail?
- Was the deadline and quality standards clear?
- How was the Direct expected to report on to Bad Boss?
- Did Bad Boss discuss any skills and training requirements?
- Did Bad Boss regularly check on progress?
#5 Consider your Impact
It’s bad enough to be a Bad-Boss, mis-managing the company’s resources but even worse, think about the impact it had on the Direct and his family that evening? It’s no wonder Gallup is finding employees are not so engaged!
Does your manager care about your development? What other good practices do you see them apply? Please share them below or even name your great managers!
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