How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you manage…
Joan Garbo & Associates
Virtually every business is organized with employees managing other employees. In fact, being promoted to manager often means a sudden and subtle separation from former co-workers, putting the manager in “the enemy’s camp.” The problem lies in the fact that most people do not want to be managed. Rather than creating a relationship of mutual support, managers and managees often view each other with mistrust: the one being managed feels they are being watched and the one managing feels unsupported. While you may not be able to change the structure and titles or an organization, you can change your perception and thus change the relationship and correlated actions.
When any group of people is asked if they would prefer to be managed or to be coached, almost unanimously they respond “coached.” The most important ingredient in the distinction of coaching versus managing, is trust. In a successful coaching relationship, the coach trusts that the player is the best person to get the job done, and the player trusts that the intention of the coach is to empower the player to get the job done better.
The natural question then arises: “how do I make my manager a coach?” While the answer is simple, the execution of it requires patience and persistence.
First, like it or not, you have to accept the premise that 90% of life is perception. Very little in life is measurable reality…you know, like gravity that occurs for everyone in exactly the same way every time. You may say someone else is attractive and someone else will say the same person is unattractive. In fact, when you think about it, we create our own reality — which I refer to as
“me-ality”! So your first step, regardless of the evidence you may have in front of you, is to create the reality that your manager is in fact your coach whose aim and intention is to support you in performing well. When you listen to what your “coach” has to say, with the idea that he/she wants you to do well, you make the coach look good. When the coach looks good, so does the player.
Secondly, you need to clearly and respectfully let your manager know that your intention is support him/her in succeeding. In order for this to happen, your coach needs to know what motivates you, what mode of learning is best for you, and how to blend your individual communication styles. In other words, you work to create a partnership in which both of you win.
You may be thinking, “This sounds like elementary school, trying to be the teacher’s pet.” Well, let me remind you, this isn’t elementary school, this is your life/career. Besides, the “teacher’s pet” usually got good report cards! While the teacher’s pet may have not been popular with classmates, your current “classmates” are not the ones who decide who gets promotions!
Finally, the most encouraging aspect of this approach to working with your manager is that there is nothing to lose. Going for a win-win relationship, if nothing else, will teach you much about co-operative relationships; and will be a wonderful lesson in developing your own leadership skills. In the worst case scenario, if your manager does not respond favorably, you will have a clear conscience, knowing that you did your very best to make your current situation work, as you write up your resume to send out to those who are looking for someone just like you!