Here’s a an e-mail that caught me by surprise and made me sit up, take notice, and review what I’ve been sending out to subscribers of our Improvement Points service.
“I enjoy your improvement points but think that you are far too hard on managers and leaders. Your articles show a distinct bias for employees rather than leaders, supervisors, and managers. While you often indicate that you need a balance, I have trouble sending some of your stuff out to staff as it will just encourage them to be critical of their supervisors. You need to provide a better balance. I’ve been a leader, a manager, a supervisor, etc. for 26 years and you clearly have not worked in a union environment or had staff that really and truly don’t like anyone in authority.”
Thanks for your feedback. I always appreciate when readers or audience members voice concerns or issues that I need to look at more closely in my work. Your message has pushed me to think further about the bias issue you raise.
As you can see on our web page describing the Improvement Points service (www.clemmer.net/improvement.shtml), I have focused this service on organizational effectiveness and personal/leadership effectiveness. The most appropriate Improvement Points to pass on to staff would be those on personal/leadership effectiveness. The organizational effectiveness points are aimed at helping managers continuously improve the way they lead their organizations or teams. Many of these would not be appropriate to pass on to staff. I know many readers pass them on to other supervisors/managers and sometimes use the Improvement Point or its linked article for further management team discussion.
Like my books and workshops or presentations, these management messages are designed to stretch the recipient further. They often are critical of managers because I am pointing out mediocre or bad management practices and providing suggestions for improving those. Of course, as with any advice in our lives, we have to weigh what’s being said against our growth or development goals and personal approach. If the comment irritates or causes us to flinch, that may be the grain of sand around which we can spin our own pearl of improvement. If it doesn’t fit, we need to ignore the advice or hit the delete key.
I have worked extensively in union environments with my Clients for over twenty-five years. Many of my sessions have included active and quite vocal union leaders or been designed exclusively for them. I’ve certainly encountered my share of frontline people who don’t like anyone in authority. The big challenge in this environment is for the manager to not fall into the classic We/They Gap and become a victim pointing fingers at “they.” You can scan through a large collection of articles on taking responsibility for our choices here.
Thanks again for your input. This has been a valuable reflection exercise for me to re-examine the focus and intent of Improvement Points