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What every person wants…

There is a lot of talk out there about what everyone wants, men and women, children, leaders, laborers, clerks and managers. We manage to talk about how each one wants something different until we just walk away from the discussion, shaking our heads, not having gained any ground. Yet, from experience, and I am reminding you of your own experience, not just mine, we all want one one thing: respect. And we want that respect not just for our existence, but for our knowledge and experience. Striving for respect is what makes us try harder.

There is the opposite of respect, disrespect, that can demoralize a person in a heartbeat.  Yet you can take that very same circumstance, handle it slightly differently, and you can boost the morale of that person and others around them.

Lessons are best learned from a story format, and so this is the story of two different managers, supervisors, whatever you want to call them.

Jerry had messed up on the job. He knew he had messed up when he did it. When Mark, his supervisor, found out about it (through other people) he went through the roof and hammered Jerry verbally in front of his co-workers and other supervisors. Jerry got defensive saying “I didn’t know how to do it any differently.” which only caused Mark to belittle him more, saying he should have asked and there is no dumb question and used several other cliches which people just tuned out. Jerry was thoroughly embarrassed. He had tried to do his best but it had not worked out and he was trying to learn how not to do this again, but the result was – disrespect. Which stung Jerry. And it showed when he went home. His wife asked him to tell her about his day. She knew there was an issue.  Co-workers were just glad they hadn’t received the tongue lashing.

In a different department, Roger screwed up. Roger went directly to his boss, Jaime, who dealt with the situation  a little differently. Jaime started by asking Roger “Why had this happened?” Jaime knew who was at fault, but he had two other priorities: 1) make sure the repair was done properly and 2) make sure that future repairs of that same type were done without incident.

The truth is, Jaime’s priorities should have been Mark’s as well. Here is how Jaime handled the situation. First, after checking around he discovered that no one else was qualified to make the repair. So he took Roger into his office and did a little training by first letting Roger know that they might discuss the situation more later, in private, but that right now they really had to get this repair done, and so he, Jaime, was going to work with Mark to make sure it got done right. He made sure that this was training, and that Mark was not to feel like he was being micro-managed.

What do you think the results were once Mark successfully made the repair? The word got out that Jaime really isn’t a bad sort of person. In fact, he would help if you just asked. So, even though Mark felt bad for screwing up, he gained new knowledge by learning how to effect the repair and he gained respect for his boss. As word spread, both Mark and Jaime’s levels of respect went up among the crew. And people felt safer going to Jaime before there was an incident.

Mark, on the other hand, still struggles with “those idiots that don’t ask…and what were they thinkin’?”

So what’s your management style?
How much do you respect your people?
How much do you think they respect you? Or, asked another way, do they feel safe enough to talk to you before issues become unmanageable?


Those of you that have known me for any length of time know that I am an intense people watcher.  I love watching people interact with each other and through their body language alone try to determine if not their content, at least their mood and how they are feeling.

It turns out that our bodies communicate with us as well, and can change our own minds.  Take 21 minutes and learn a bit more about how our body language speaks to our own beliefs about power and worth in this video from Amy Cuddy at TED.com.

SOME of us also have an overabundance of testosterone and and may actually need to figure out – and test – a pose that helps dial it back without looking wimpy. Work on that.

Try these techniques when you go to your next meeting, whatever that may be.  Post a comment here to let me know how that worked for you.


Understanding, clarifying and assigning strategic versus tactical decision making is key in business.

I almost want to say “Duh, really?”

There appears to be an imbalance in strategic vs. tactical thinkers: around 90% of leaders or managers are tactical and only about 10% are strategic. I believe that we can teach and be taught the difference and how to think both ways. I also know that it will take some effort, but we have to start someplace. Let’s define strategic and tactical decision making in simple terms:

  • Tactical leaders and managers are like firefighters. They seem to thrive on running around fighting the little fires that crop up in their businesses or divisions.Tactical decisions are short term, narrowly focused, and should be, but are most often not, made with the long term view in mind.
  • Strategic leaders and managers are fire preventors. They look to the future and see the implications of moves and minimizing the risk of a fire starting.  If or when a fire does start, they fight it based on the long view of the company. In some cases, they may choose not to fight a fire and just let it burn itself out. Strategic decisions are based on the ‘higher level’, ‘big picture’ and ‘long term’ views and objectives.
  • Where the Strategy and Tactics meet: Improving the organizations capacity to survive and thrive. Strategists need to get the long view right and share that view with the tacticians. And vice-versa.
    • When the tacticians know what the long term view is, they are better able to choose which fires to fight, how to fight them, and help prevent fires in the future.
    • When the strategists listen to and understand the tacticians they get a ‘boots on the ground’ view of areas of possible flare-ups and can make decisions to prevent them. They can answer questions such as “Are we capable of handling that flare up?”

How can a business plan help with Strategies vs. Tactics?

Look at the diagram below. It is a ‘mind-map’ of decisions a business owner was struggling with. He wasn’t really trying to micro-manage per-se, but his mind kept going to all of the things he felt he needed to attended to. I let him wander around in his head and kept notes of his path. It was a maze of thoughts and ideas, traps and blocks, creativity and opportunities. What kept him from moving forward was that he was almost always in firefighting mode. A big part of why he was in firefighting mode was that all of these paths represent another option, another choice he had to make. And as I have said before, too many options create indecision.

What management should be focused on

What management should be focused on

When managements’ focus swings to each fire, the entire organization swings wildly and randomly

The center highlighted area is the big picture focus that management needs to focus on. The higher up the manager is in the food chain, the narrower that box gets. Notice the North arrow? That represents the direction the management is focused on. All of the little fingers reaching out? They are in alignment with and being carried along true north.

When the decision making box is wider the map is nowhere near as neat. The wider the box of decision making, the more likely the arrow is to swing back and forth as management focuses on fire after fire – almost randomly. And that is how the entire organization will move – randomly.

I have written a series based on live work with a clients’ permission to talk in general terms about the process and the numbers. Here are links to the series of articles. I will make them ‘live’ as the posts are uploaded.

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