|Customize Your Approach to Every Person You Manage
Every person is different. That's one of the hardest things about managing people. Managers tell me that every day. It's so hard to tune into each person. What works with one person doesn't always work with another person. So how do you customize your approach to every person you manage?
We've found that there are six very simple questions. If you ask and answer these questions over and over again about every person you manage, it will really help you tune in. What are these six questions? You'll recognize them: Who? Why? What? How? When? And where?
Who is this person at work? Don't worry, you don't have to know who this person is deep inside, what their heart and soul is, you just need to know--who is this person at work? High performer or low performer? Somebody who is consistent or inconsistent? What makes this person tick at work? Who is this person?
The second question is "Why?" Why do you need to manage this person? Every person is different. Some people, if you don't manage them, won't do anything. Other people will do a lot of stuff, but they'll just go running off in the wrong direction. And sometimes the reason you need to manage a person is because that person is really, really good and you should be worried they might leave. For other people, you should be worried they actually might stay. Every person is different. Why do you need to manage this person?
The third question is "What?" What do you need to talk about with this person: Big picture? Or the To Do list? Everyone is different. Strategy or tactics? What do you need to talk to this person about? A good place to start is what do you want this person to do next? Work faster? Work better? Stop doing some annoying behavior? Start doing something? You've got to figure out what you want this person to do next.
The fourth question is "How?" How do you need to talk to this person? What works with one person might not work with another person. With some people, you've got to talk like an older sibling. "How are you feeling today about you?" With some people you need to talk like an auditor. "Yesterday at 3:17pm the following occurred." With some people you have to talk like a cross examining attorney. "Is there a reason you didn't do this, that, or the other thing?" How should you talk to this person?
The fifth question is "When?" When, like what time? And when, like how often? Every person is different. Some people you need to manage every day. Some people you need to talk to twice a day or three times a day. With some people, you only need to talk with them once a week to check in, make sure things are going well.
And finally, "Where?" Where are you going to meet with this person? Now if you are in a remote location, you need to use a rigorous protocol of telephone and email. But where are you going to meet with this person? Does this person work in a cubicle surrounded by other people? Maybe you need to meet in a stairwell. Maybe you need to meet in a conference room. In restaurants, a lot of managers meet in the back booth. In battle, sometimes soldiers meet behind a large rock. Where are you going to have this conversation?
Those are the six key questions to ask about every person you manage. Keep asking and answering those questions. That will really help you tune into each person and customize your approach to every person you manage.
Bonus Management Best Practice
Help your people earn more! Keep a running list of opportunities for every single person you manage to earn one small extra reward after another, as a quid pro quo for extra performance. Keep track of this as part of your ongoing documentation. If you keep a running list of opportunities for every person to earn more, then you'll be able to help every single person get into an upward spiral of continuous improvement and increased earning, one extra reward at a time. From now on, plan to help people go the extra mile, one task/responsibility/project at a time, in order to earn those extra rewards.
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