“We Can Do This” management

by Shaun Kieran

Every once in awhile I dream of coming up with some phrase that’s so memorable and evocative, I can copywrite it. Then it would get picked up out there somehow, create some “buzz,”, generate a ton ideas and comments – as well as a bestselling book. So far, no luck.

But I was leafing through some notes having to do with employees describing what made a good boss, and I noticed how often what got said connected to feeling “encouraged” to stretch, take something new on, and so many times the boss had more confidence in the employees than they did in themselves.

I’ve also noticed that some managers are “naturals” – almost effortlessly good at explaining a goal or a project so that the employee “sees” what’s expected while also feeling assured it’s “do-able.”

It’s a real skill to combine describing the process, anticipating the trouble spots, assuring support and adequate resources, and accurately describing the good outcome long before it happens. When a supervisor handles it well, it results in less anxiety (which means better initial listening and comprehension), less outright resistance, and a much higher probability of overall success.

Some supervisors are just more comfortable dealing with human nature – in all its splendor – than some others. For some, displays of anxiety or self doubt are weaknesses not suitable to a workplace – and some barely hide their true feelings behind that manufactured smile.

Most supervisors have been around long enough to recognize that not all line employees share their commitment to the job– but the “naturals” are consistently slower to be irritated or get exasperated at employees for being so needy – a repeat of instructions, say, or yet another reassurance about real and imagined “problems.”

Relaxed supervisors smile through the initial static, then slowly, appreciatively – but relentlessly – expect people to perform and the job to get done.   Their message:

“We can do this.”

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