Managing People: It’s Not About You (Mostly!)

managing peopleOne of the biggest challenges I had when I began my career managing people was controlling my ego. I really struggled with getting to grips with the idea that the whole management role wasn’t all about me; my skills, my attitude, my performance and, most importantly, what my employees thought about me

I particularly had a need to be respected – not because of who I was, or how effective I was at managing people, but just because I believed that people should respect their manager (I know, I know but, in my defence, I was very young!)

Here’s how that need for respect played out for me:

• An employee has failed to meet a deadline I set them – that must mean they don’t respect me

• An employee has just criticised my idea for a new product – they don’t respect me

• An employee has just interrupted me in a meeting – they don’t respect me

Managing People: It’s all about me! (IAAM)

The problem with the ‘IAAM’ way of managing people is that it never, ever leads to an effective response to any situation. Why? Because my response to that way of thinking can only be driven by hurt, disappointment, and maybe even a need for revenge. I’m sure you can see that any conversation you have with your employee from the stance of ‘IAAM/ respect’ is unlikely to be successful? In my experience it will very likely degenerate into something on the lines of:

You’ve let me down

I’m so disappointed

Who do you think you are? I’m your manager!

The issue is that there may have been a good reason for the deadline being met, my new product idea being disagreed with, the employee interrupting me. And even if the reason isn’t a ‘good’ one (it may be lack of time management, failing to see the benefits of the new product, a lack of interpersonal skills) it’s not that likely that my employee is acting in this way simply to show disrespect

The reality is, 99 times out of 100, it really isn’t about you

Managing People: It’s all about the business

So how can we control our tendency towards ‘IAAM’? A very effective way to deal with any employee underperformance issue is to depersonalise the issue by focusing on the facts and, specifically, the business consequences of the employee’s actions (read more on how to give constructive criticism using consequences HERE)

What we are aiming to do here is to put aside our guesses or assumptions about why the employee did (or didn’t), for example, meet the deadline and instead focus on the consequences of not meeting the deadline (the consequences to the business, not our ego!)

Managing People: Why make it about you?

When we discipline ourselves to focus on facts and consequences we find it very hard to play the ‘IAAM’ game. When we analyse an employee’s actions in terms of business consequence we have to put aside our egos and needs (for example for ‘respect’) simply because they are really not that relevant! And what you will find when you do focus on facts and consequences is what a relief it is to let go of the ‘IAAM’ stance – and all the problems that way of thinking brings with it. After all, why make it about you?

Managing People: Need Help?

In my video ‘Motivating Your Staff to Improve Their Performance with Positive Criticism’ I teach managers how to give constructive criticism to their staff using facts and consequences and absolutely no ‘IAAM’! Take a look at the video details and find out how to watch a preview session from the video HERE


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