A few years ago when I was teaching a program for managers one of the participants came up afterward to share a point of view. Don had spent a number of years as a manager in a well-known, Fortune 500 company whose name I will not mention here. We had just finished a discussion about the important role powerful relationships play between managers and their direct reports.
A Real Story
Don said, “You know, Jim at X Company we always believed that any interaction between a manager and a subordinate should be net gain to the manager.” What an interesting comment. I was so taken aback I had to confirm that I had heard him correctly. “So, Don, you are telling me that every time I interact with you as my manager, you gain and I lose?” In essence, he said yes.
Unfortunately the business world is rife with silly and misguided notions about how managers should conduct themselves. Research indicates managers who have the productivity and retention invest in relationships with their people. Great managers develop powerful’relationships with those who work for them. A powerful relationship doesn’t necessarily mean we are best buds or we hang out together. It simply means that if you work for me I make it a point to take an interest in you – that I genuinely care about you as an individual, not just a cog in the production wheel.
This approach does not affect my objectivity. Caring and objectivity are independent variables. After all, if things are not going well, wouldn’t you rather have that conversation with a manager who cares about you instead of one with whom you have no relationship?
This Isn't Tough
- Recognize an accomplishment – large or small
- Teach the person something you know
- Bring or forward an article of interest to the person
- Know their strongest talents and help them utilize them more often
- Spend some time with them on their turf and not just on your terms
These things are not tough to do but they pay off in a big way. Remember, powerful relationships are defined by intent. If you do something for your direct report’s own good, they will grow. If you do something for any other reason, neither the relationship or the person grows.
That’s what Don never realized.
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