Babysitters for Hire

ImageAgha Hasan Abedi, a banker and philanthropist, once said, “The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”  This sums up two styles of management:

  1. The babysitter – managers who loom over the work area ready to reprimand any wrong doings.
  2. The leader – someone who guides and shows their employees “how to.”

Management is only effective when your employees respect you.  In order to lead people effectively and gain that respect managers need the following skills: listening, communicating, and empathy.

Have you ever been asked, “Are you listening?” Let me guess: you reply with a wholehearted yes.  Then the dreaded, “What was the last thing I said?” question follows.  Let me guess again: you are left looking foolish and embarrassed because you can’t tell them what they said last.  This is because in all reality, you weren’t listening.  We hear sounds all day: the abrupt alarm that starts our day, the dog barking next door, the sounds of traffic, the click of keys on a keyboard, the cheers of the sports viewers at a bar, the ding of the microwave finishing your late night meal … these all mesh together to create the cacophony of life. Even though we hear these sounds do we really listen?  Hearing is the brain acknowledging that there is noise, listening is the brain deciphering the message within the noise.  College students are very familiar with this difference.  Many times students sit through class and hear the professor’s voice yammer on about why A plus B equals C or the differences in meiosis and mitosis yet when asked about the content of the lecture directly after they cannot give a recount.  This is because they weren’t actually listening.  For management to work properly, managers MUST learn to listen to what their surrounding and people, employees and customers alike, are saying.

Listening is key to being effective and gaining respect but listening is no good unless you know what to do with the information.  One must know how to use the heard information to communicate the correct message for the situation at hand.

More and more the education world is realizing how important communication is.  There are classes on public speaking, debate, everyday communicating, verbal versus non-verbal communication, etc.  Dr. Mark Rutland, the President of Oral Roberts University, always says that “Any word sounds funny if you put the emphasis (em-FAW-sis) on the wrong syllable (sill-AH-ble).”  Without knowing it, many people do place incorrect emphasis on the wrong place in their messages.  The number one way this is done is with tone.  Take this sentence for example: “What do you want?”  Now, re-read this question aloud with a frustration-free, actually interested attitude.  Ok, now re-read this question aloud with an irritated, busy attitude.  Hear the difference?  These feelings and more come through with our words with our tone.  Tone, among other verbal and non-verbal signals, can distort our message we wish to communicate.

Now let’s say listening and communicating are strengths for you, but you are still having trouble gaining respect and managing your crew.  A possible hindrance could be you lack empathy.

STOP!  Don’t finish that thought.  You’re probably thinking that empathy seems a strange NEED in skills for managers; that empathy has no place in the business arena.  Think again.  Many misconstrue empathy as being soft and feeling sorry, pity, or bad for an individual.  That definition is sympathy.  Empathy is being able to identify with or experiencing vicariously another’s thought, feeling, or attitude.  This skill is what gives you respect.  The number one situation empathy is used is when mistakes are made.  Babysitters reprimand the individual for their mistake, not caring to listen to the other side of the situation and understand why the employee did what they did.  Leaders take in the situation, listen to the other side of the story, and place themselves in the employee’s shoes.  When managers place themselves in the employee’s shoes, they are empathizing with the employee.  They feel and think what the employee felt and thought.  This gives them an opportunity to teach and correct the mistake instead of a slap on the wrist and giving the employee a subconscious fear of any similar situations.  Empathy is what makes a manager a leader instead of a babysitter.

What management style are you?  Remember that babysitters are feared but leaders are respected.  Your management will show more positive results when you gain respect with your employees by listening to the information they have for you, communicate your information clearly, and show empathy in all situations.

Are you looking for babysitters or leaders?


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