Are You Making This Situational Leadership Mistake?

Are You Making This Situational Leadership Mistake?

I stopped by a fast food establishment in TN last year and witnessed the following:

Employee: “Where do you want me to put the new oatmeal marketing displays?”

Manager: “You decide I am busy.”

Employee: “I want to make the right decision…this is my first time setting out marketing displays…where do you think the displays should go?”

Manager: “You will do the right thing…go ahead and make it happen.”

Now for the rest of the story…Once the employee finished placing the marketing displays you hear…

Manager: “You did not do this correctly…I would have never put the displays where you did!”

Employee: “But I…”

Manager: “Never mind I will do it myself.”

What do you think? More importantly have you faced a similar situation and used this leadership approach before? If you answered yes then you know that aiming your communication at someone does not improve effectiveness and destroys trust between the manager and the employee. From my observation the employee wanted to do the task correctly and even asked for help. The manager just wanted the task completed and indicated she trusted the employee to do it correctly. While the manager granted the employee responsibility for the task the authority for completing the task remained with the manager. Two thoughts come to mind:

  1. The employee’s preferred style for receiving communication was details so she could complete the task accurately the first time. The manager’s preferred communication style was ready, fire, aim…she was communicating at the employee.
  2. When delegating to someone recognize not only how to communicate the task but also take into account the employee’s ability and willingness for completing the task.

In this case the manager could have slowed her pace and taken the time to show the employee where to correctly place one of the marketing displays. Next she could have ensured the employee understood the detailed instructions and was comfortable with completing the remainder of the task. Next time you are faced with this situation communicate in a leadership style that connects you with the employee vs. aiming yourself and destroying trust and confidence in the process.

Let me know what steps you will take to improve communication between yourself and those you are responsible for serving…your followers.

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