Archive for December, 2012

Many years ago I was just about to leave work for some much needed holidays when my boss called me and said he wanted to see me. In the words of Homer Simpson, “Doh!” I felt like a bank robber who had almost made his escape when the town Sheriff suddenly appears behind him and says, “Not so fast there.”

After finishing up everything I had to do, I made my way to see him. What ended up happening surprised me. My boss didn’t have any criticism for me or even a “good-point, bad-point” performance review, he simply wanted to meet with me before I went out of town to tell me I was doing a good job. He mentioned a few specific things he was pleased about and encouraged me to have a great vacation.

While the talk was very short it had a big impact on me. It changed the way I felt about leaving. Don’t get me wrong, I still looked forward to the holiday, but now it was less about escaping from work. It also made me feel good as I left because I was reminded that my efforts were making a difference.

Leadership Challenge
Take a minute with each one of your direct reports before they leave for holidays and do what my boss did for me; instead of giving them the generic “have a great holiday,” tell them something they’re doing well and what kind of difference their work is making. It will send them away on a high note.

How do your staff really feel about you?

After speaking at a conference on the importance of taking a genuine interest in your employees, I had a manager approach me and tell me about the “Spouse Test.” It was an ingenious method he used to gauge whether or not his employees liked working for him. The spouse test, he explained, took place whenever he had a chance to meet one of his employees’ significant others. This typically happened at the year-end holiday party. If a spouse of one of his employees was warm, accepting, and genuinely friendly toward him, he passed. If a spouse was reserved and even cool toward him, then he knew he might not be doing as well as he’d hoped.

While not foolproof, the spouse test is a brilliant way to gauge how you are doing with your staff. The reason, of course, is that people tend to like those who care about their loved ones. Conversely, anytime that people feel that one of their loved ones is being used or taken advantage of, they are unimpressed. The spouse test acts as a sort of mirror of how you are really doing with your direct reports.

(Excerpt from Nine Minutes on Monday)

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