I’m Not a Touchy-Feely Manager

June 29, 2010 by  Filed under: Management 

In the course of conversations I have with clients, it’s not unusual for self descriptions about their management style carry less definitive statements of value compared to the summary of their quantitative successes. This makes me think, what aspects about quality management are the most highly valued? Results, savings, efficiencies, risk management are all accurate responses. So why is it uncommon for soft skills to appear as predominant of a value among quality management principles? Are employees less predictable to manage? Are Managers less confident of their managerial effectiveness? “I’m not a touchy-feely Manager” comes up as a phrase that capsulate what they mean. What extreme are we distinguishing ourselves from? Touchy feely requires some sensitivity from Managers who have awareness of the needs of others, but it doesn’t mean that one needs to become a soppy bleeding heart.

In the world of coaching, we are taught to recognize if a client claims a self-limiting belief. Defined, these are depictions of a resistant belief that has restrictive limits to our actions. In the case of the touchy-feely, it may be our emotions we restrict. It may mean that we don’t feel confident or we haven’t had positive outcomes managing in an socially aware way. The only guaranteed outcome is that holding on to this idea will make a person more anxious and more likely to perform badly. We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water by forever eliminating the chance to develop the skill. Like anything else, developing social awareness of the emotions of one’s staff is a skill muscle that needs to be strengthened. And the pay off; building relationships with employees by remaining cognizant of their needs can foster greater teamwork and leads to quality communication.

So if we were to lower the guard and try some easy steps to ever so gently step into those touchy feely waters, let’s start slow.

– Greet employees by name. It’s a personal and powerful way to get their attention. People’s names are precious to them and we like to hear our names used in regular conversation. We pay attention when our names are used.

– Timing is everything. Whether you have good or bad news, how it will be perceived seldom has much to do with the message as it does the reception of the audience. You don’t have to walk around on egg shells avoiding saying anything for fear of offending people. Rather look for subtle cues like body language, facial expressions and voice tones before you blurt out news good or bad.

– Clear the clutter in your head. Most of us have gotten very good at multitasking and our minds race ahead even when we are having a conversation with our employees. Reducing the clutter means stopping long enough to really focus on the other person and their needs. For those who learn to clear the clutter and give special attention to others will be people magnets.

From the book True Leaders by Bette Price and George Ritcheske, we read: “Gone are the days when a company’s success could be measured by profits alone. The most successful outcomes are reached through a balance between economic and human values contributions. I’m anxious to hear the comments of those of you are learning to tread into the touchy feeling waters. What have you learned?

Debra Desmond is a certified executive coach, frequent public speaker and professional facilitator. She is the founder of Real Perspective Coaching. Executives who have worked with Debra solved problems by strengthening their emotional intelligence competencies, built and repaired relationships, established priorities, dealt with burnout, made career transitions, and achieved their most sought after goals.

Debra’s experience in Human Resource management roles established what she is known. Debra’s leadership of numerous organizational development initiatives brought significant, yet well planned positive change to the organization. Her long standing career in executive search within healthcare and the petroleum industries fine-tuned her client orientation, relationship building expertise.

Debra is certified executive coach from the Behavioral Coaching Institute, she holds a Masters degree in HR from Loyola University Chicago, certified administrator in DISC assessments and MBTI instruments, To learn more about Debra, her practice and the ways she has added value to her corporate and individual clients, visit her website: http://www.realperspectivecoach.com

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