Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Dealing with Idiots


People are human and part of being human is acting really stupid at times.  I’m speaking of individuals who know better, but for seemingly no apparent reason, will do the most idiotic things.  These are the times when I just want to slap them and ask, “What the hell were you thinking?”

When this happens, it’s time for a reality check for both them and me.  As frustrating as the situation might be, I must remind myself that they are just people, and as such, are entitled to act like an idiot once in awhile.  The important thing is for me to 1) let them know that their behavior is not acceptable; and nine times out of ten they already know it.  I don’t need to beat them up.  Usually they’re already doing a pretty good job of that themselves.  2) Next, I need to help get them back on track.  And 3) finally, I need to assist them in minimizing any damage they may have caused because of their stupidity.

Notice I said, “Assist them.”  I will assist them, but I won’t clean up their mess for them.  Each person needs to clean up his or her own messes.  People grow by taking responsibility for their choices, and I respect my employees too much to deprive them of an opportunity to grow.  As long as someone else is cleaning up my messes for me why should I bother to clean them up?   Why should I even care whether I make them or not?

Next, I want to check my motivation for wanting to slap them.  Have I turned this around to make it all about me?  Am I disappointed because I feel like I have failed as a manager?  Am I expecting too much from this individual?

It’s easy for me, once an employee becomes proficient at a task, to just expect that they will always complete it correctly and never make a mistake.  This is just arrogance on my part.

Remember “Who Is My Customer?” Once everything in Open Heaven is running smoothly, it’s easy to forget that my employees are my customer and my purpose is to service my customer.  When people are self-sufficient it’s easy to forget that they still need my help.  It’s just that the help they may require now is of a higher level.

Initially, my help is needed to teach staff the power of Open Heaven, assist them in developing purpose and vision, train them in defining goals and standards, and inspire them to inspire themselves.  Once this is accomplished, I now need to nurture their growth.  Once a seed is planted, watered, fed, attended, and begins to sprout, it still requires further attention if it is to blossom to its fullest.

At this stage, is when Manager as Mentor becomes my major role.  To share the wisdom and understanding that only experience teaches is a gift one gives to themselves.  To know that I have shared something good and positive in my life and that it will live on after me through the lives and works of others is the biggest reward of all.  In this, I leave part of me behind, making the world a little better place.  This is my legacy.

Inspect what you expect has never been more important.  I must make it a practice to inspect my expectations.  Are they realistic?  Are they sound?  Will they accomplish the intended goal?  Who does this expectation help?  Who does it hinder or hurt?  When this expectation is met, what next?

Inspect: to view closely in critical appraisal; look over

Expect: to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence

Remember as we discussed in chapter 7, expectations are resentments waiting to happen.  Am I setting myself or my staff up for disappointment?  What will the probable outcome be if this expectation is not met?  When conducting a masterpiece, it becomes too easy to expect perfection.  All it takes is for one instrument to strike a foul note and the harmony is shattered.

Fine Tuning is critical to ensure growth.  Anything can, and should, be improved upon. Nothing is ever perfect.  In business, as in life, there is no such thing as stagnation – we are either moving forward or we are moving backward.  If I do not continue to tweak each process, I will fall into a rut.  Yesterday’s innovation is today’s rut, and a rut is moving backward.

Besides process, I also want to tweak my instruments. Since they are my most valuable assets, it’s obvious I will want to pay particular attention to their growth.  There is always something new to learn, always a skill to hone, always a new and deeper level of understanding to be realized.

Control what you can control and let go of what you can’t. I do not want to waste my valuable time struggling with things I have no control over.  I refuse to beat my head against the wall for anyone.  Many managers believe if they just keep at something long enough they eventually wear the opposition down.  They continue to waste valuable time, energy, and resources.

The trick is recognizing, admitting, and accepting when I have no control over something.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  If I am given a spoon and told to empty the ocean it would of course be foolish to even start.  Most tasks in life and business may not be as obvious as emptying the ocean, but they can be even more destructive.  In other words, because it’s not obvious I will waste time and resources in pursuit of something unattainable.  Just because I want something to be, doesn’t mean it can be.  I want to be careful not to con myself into believing something is real just because my desire, or pride, or guilt, or arrogance wants it to be real.

By realizing and admitting my talents, resources, and limitations, I can work with effectivity.  But once I do recognize my limitations and understand when there is something I cannot control, the hard part is letting go of it.  The need to control can be very strong.  It gives me an illusion of power, but in reality, I’m only fooling myself.  By giving up the need to control, I actually gain control.  I can then focus on what I can do and utilize my time, energy, and resources where they will produce results – long-term sustainable results.

A Different set of eyes allows me to see things through a different perspective.  There are countless ways to view anything and with different views come different solutions, different uses, and different results.  A wise man is open to new ideas, and the best way to get effective ideas is by utilizing a peer support group.

This support group needs to be a group outside of my company, away from the people I work with.  This group of people with similar interests or goals, but very different perspectives, enables me to bounce ideas back-and-forth.  We brainstorm, examine, critique, suggest, give and get feedback, and deliberate the effectivity of new ideas.  This group also allows me to vent off frustration and steam and check my motivation.

-excerpt from “Managing from the Heart”

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June 2, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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