SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Three Actions for Better Awareness at Work

Three Actions for Better Awareness at Work

By Dr. Arron Grow, School of Applied Leadership

Fall has arrived and all of the children in my neighborhood will be getting ready to go back to go school. Some are ready to go, others would rather not. But regardless of how they feel, all of them are aware of what they will be doing when they get there. Like these students, managers too should be aware of what is happening in their workplace. From many of the experiences I’ve been hearing about lately, I’m not sure every manager understands this principle.

There’s an old saying that applies well here. There are three kinds of people in the world; those who know the score, those who don’t know the score, and those who don’t know that someone is even keeping score. Managers who don’t want to suck need to be aware that team members are always keeping score. Managers who want the score to be in their favor, need to know what’s happening. Here are three actions managers can take to better know the score regarding their teams in the area of awareness.

Ask Questions

While it’s true that in general team members go to supervisors with their questions, there is no reason managers can’t go to team members with questions as well. Of course, the questions will be different, but since all learning hinges on the questions we ask, the questions managers can ask team members should be questions that will help them become more aware of what is happening on the teams they oversee. What more would you like to know about the team you oversee? What roadblocks do team members see to increasing team performance? According to team members, what more could you do as the manager to help remove the roadblocks? Be ready to act on the information you receive. Managers who do not act on information they have are managers who shouldn’t be managing.

Walk in Their Shoes

Several years ago, I was tasked with helping a manufacturing company find ways to increase safety in their facility. Although the site was passing every safety inspection, accidents were happening at an uncommonly high rate. At that point in my career I did not have a lot of experience in manufacturing settings. This lack of experience was a benefit to the job that needed done. People who had worked there for a while knew all the trouble spots. Trouble was, the less experienced workers didn’t. Walking in as a novice it was easy to walk into (sometimes literally) the hazards that were on site. As a manager, we sometimes get so caught up in our own views that we are unable to see how others see things. Make a conscious effort to put yourself in your team members’ shoes and you will gain insights you would not otherwise have.

Approach Issues with Caution

Things going not quite as hoped is not an uncommon thing. Unfortunately, when something goes wrong, it is also not uncommon for managers to jump to conclusions about what happened. It’s during these times that more level heads must prevail. Seek for understanding. Hear every side of every issue. Managers who do this will have more information to move forward with. It may not be easy to hear everything, but be honest, you would rather know then not know, right? Of course you would. So don’t shoot any messengers. Gather all of the information you can and then move forward with greater clarity to better solutions.

I get that these three actions may seem like common sense. The sad fact is, however, that common sense isn’t always common practice. Start making these three actions common practice and you’ll be on the right track to overseeing a more fulfilled and a more effective team.

To learn more about leadership, check out all the amazing programs at CityU’s School of Applied Leadership


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