As managers, we often have to go over situations and discuss the reasoning behind certain decisions. This usually entails the manager noticing something that is not quite being done in the way it should be. Say, you are trying to get an employee to not just see the tasks that he KNOWS are in his job description, but also to IDENTIFY other problem areas on his own by using a bit of common sense.
Hypothetically, let’s say you have a team on a physical job site and there is a dumpster. The area around the dumpster is a complete mess and potential buyers of the development are going to see this dumpster. You want to impart on the employee that even though you didn’t tell him to clean it up, maybe because you didn’t see it yourself, you would have hoped that the employee who walked right by the area would have tidied up or at least brought it to your attention so you could assign the task to others.
Here is where things get tricky. As you are talking about this principal of work ethic ie: to think critically and not just do the written task, it can often become frustrating. To you, its so obvious. Something is not the way it should be and it needs to be fixed. Regardless if you were planning on it, if it needs to get done, it needs to get done.
In explaining this, it can be frustrating. Last week I spoke about how some employees are strictly labor, best suited for doing a few tasks over and over. Sometimes, as you are trying to impart this new way to approach the job, you will find that some employees will smile and nod, and sooner rather than later, a similar occasion will occur. Let’s say this time a door is not locking on the site, the employee is using that door, and it wasn’t until you checked that area that YOU noticed the lock had broken.
Again, you call the employee in and go into the same discussion. The danger here is that you are going to start to over explain the situation. I see it happen with many new managers. They are trying to motivate and explain, and as they are doing so, the smile and nod is not good enough. They are looking for a breakthrough, some sign that the employee finally “gets” it. What should be a five minute reminder becomes an hour long discussion. Ask yourself this, do you ever look in the eye of the subject and see that blank stare?
What I am trying to say here is we need to control our message. It is so important that we are concise. There is a time and a place for a long drawn out conversation, but that comes when employees have their own genuine curiosity and want to talk shop. At the stage you are at in the scenario above, you are not ready to have the discusion, you are just trying to get onto the same page. Don’t be that manag that drones on and repeats himself 10 times in the course of one conversation. It is the quickest way to lose your teams attention as you will come off as someone who likes to hear the sound of their own voice.
I suggest having patience, reiterating your point during teachable moments and sometimes using rewards and consequences. I will get into more specifics in the future, but for now remember this: a common pitfall of new managers is to have long drawn out meetings where they do 90 percent of the talking. A wise man once told me that I have two ears but only one mouth and should use them in roughly that ratio. Don’t lose your team by being long winded, affecting your ability to get things done. Be short, patient, and to the point for best results and your teams will eventually catch on.
Jason Kleinerman is an entrepreneurial minded management expert specializing in multifamily residential real estate. Currently a Regional Manager for Universal Management, LLC, he has helped shape the direction of this residential firm over the past 6 years in a team setting while driving bottom line returns over many different assets through shrewd management and thorough planning.