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Fighting Office Dragons – Managers (1 of 3 part series)

Did my title get your attention? Last week I certified 7 people to teach my Star Achievement Series® curriculum for administrative professionals in their organizations. I spent 3 full days with these wonderful individuals who are going to create change in their companies. One of the modules in Star Achievement is all about attitude and events and feelings that affect our attitudes such as fear and intimidation.

One of the topics I cover in that module is called Fighting Office Dragons. Participants discuss 3 species of dragons: 1) Manager, 2) Co-workers, and 3) Themselves. I have participants discuss things people in those categories do that make them appear to be a dragon. Today, I will focus on the manager dragon. Here are some common responses I hear. See if any of your responses are like theirs.

Leaders can appear to be dragons when they:

  • don’t communicate on the employee’s level
  • give poor direction
  • don’t provide necessary information
  • show favoritism
  • don’t follow through on what they say
  • set unrealistic expectations
  • procrastinate
  • don’t resolve conflicts
  • are inflexible

Let’s take a closer look. There really are some dragon leaders, but most of the time, leaders are not dragons. They just appear to be that way to employees. People in management positions usually have good reasons for taking certain actions and for making the decisions they make.

Here are some questions to consider when you feel your leader or other managers are portraying dragon-like behaviors.

What school did this dragon go to?

Consider

There are many management styles. Some leaders believe the best way to get people to do what they want is through intimidation and fear. Other leaders believe in empowering employees and motivating them through positive feedback. Which school of thought do your leaders follow?

Consider

Who were their teachers? The people your leaders worked for during their careers had an impact on them, positive or negative. Look at each leader as an individual. Consider such things as their background, who they worked for, and what kind of training they received, if any.

Consider

They are individuals with unique backgrounds and experiences. Each was raised in a different environment with various circumstances. What we experience as we grow up and live in a household with parents or family influences who we are as we get older unless we actively choose to change our beliefs.

What is your dragon’s communication style preference?

Employees who think their leaders don’t communicate clearly or provide enough information may not be taking a close look at their leader’s communications style. We all have our own way of taking in information and sending it out.

Get to know your leader’s style of communication. Does she like information short and to the point? Does she need facts and detail? Once you identify your leader’s style, you can communicate in the way that will be most effective. Your leader will be more open to input if it’s presented in a format she likes. By not tapping into your leader’s style, you reduce openness to your information or idea. You will learn about four communication styles in Star Achieving Techniques™ (Level I, Module 2).

Sometimes leaders are just too busy and don’t realize they aren’t communicating something of importance to their employees. They have major projects on their minds, meetings to attend, phone calls to make, and employee problems to handle. You can improve the communication process by asking questions.

Other times employees just aren’t supposed to know everything that is going on. Leaders use their best judgment as to when to share information with staff.

How would you like to be a leader?

It is not an easy job. Just think of the many decisions your leader has to make. What about the people she has to supervise? Put yourself in the role of a leader for a moment. Many of the decisions your leader has to make impact people. So, as an employee, while you might think it is easy to be a manager, it is not.

Do Leaders Really Have Unrealistic Expectations?

Today everything moves at hypersonic speed. No matter how fast it is, we want it to go faster! Yet with the drive for speed is an equal necessity for quality. Companies can’t afford to sacrifice quality or re-work. Companies strive to have skilled, knowledgeable employees with the best products and services. They need employees who continually seek improvement and higher quality. Your company shouldn’t have to tell you to do this; you need to embrace a philosophy of continuous improvement in your work.

It is natural for a leader to expect the best of people. It can be seen as a compliment. The leader is saying, “I believe you can do great things. I believe in your skills and abilities. I believe in you.” Is that so bad?

An interesting facet of life in the fast lane is that due to that speed, no one stops often or long to think long and hard about what they are asking you to do really means or entails fully. Specifics and details may be unknown to your leader, or even glossed over, unintentionally.

Your leader doesn’t always know every little detail a request might create or moment by moment, what your job entails. They don’t see that their request causes a domino-like effect, a cascade of additional workflow.

Leaders see your position from their perspective and you see their position from your perspective. Neither of you realizes how long it may take to perform a particular task or the small army of people who may be needed. And, leaders may not recognize the demands put on you by others in activities that swirl around your desk.

I hope you found this helpful. This week when you feel like you are dealing with a “manager dragon,” question if your perception is just your perception or a reality.

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