We facilitated a session this week for PENNDOT’S Leadership Academy for Managers for a group of excellent managers. This group had been so engaged in the learning process that the experience was just as enriching for the facilitation team as it was for the participants.
One of the concluding activities had the managers meet in mentor groups to discuss ways of increasing their effectiveness in various categories contained in their 360-feedback report and one of these areas they looked at was delegating. I listened in as a group took a critical look at this challenging skill and responsibility to see what kinds of ideas that they would share with each other.
In previous cohorts I sometimes heard frustration expressed over those few “problem employees” that just do not seem to want to work. Interestingly, when ever this would come up the focus was always on the employee who did not want to work, unless of course the focus would shift to PENNDOT for systemic problems that an employee would blame for all of their performance problems. But this discussion was quite different.
With quite a bit of passion, one manager shared his observations on the secret to delegation. He summed it up in one word: relationships. He shared personal stories of employees pulling their trucks in at 6:30 PM to get a job finished up (that absolutely had to be finished) and not even logging the time in because they new it would reflect badly upon the supervisor or manger. He discussed the loyalty that these employees had in getting the results for their managers directly in proportion to the relationship that existed between them.
As I listened, I could not help note that the emphasis that this manager placed upon what he did as being key to the successful motivation, team spirit and performance. This was a stark contrast to other managers and supervisors who often placed the blame entirely on their employees, or even the organization. It was never their fault that things were not going well.
I was reminded of an exercise in a program that will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the year 2007, called Adventures in Attitudes. In this particular exercise the author, Bob Conklin, sums up the key to all human relation problems in three possible choices.
1. Change the Situation- fire the employee, divorce you spouse, move to a new neighborhood, etc
2. Change the Person- make them stop the abusive behavior, make them work, etc
3. Change Yourself- find ways to change your behavior to adapt to the situation or person that is difficult
It was obvious that this manager instinctively understood what Bob Conklin has passed along to the 4 million graduates of the Adventures in Attitudes program and that is, that what we need to work on, is really us. We are the key, our relationships determine our results.