Managers: Identify Your Blind Spots

Manager mistakesEverybody’s got blind spots. Those blind spots get in the way of you doing your best work. Blind spots shield you from truth, and that’s not a good thing. As a manager, you have to see the real deal: both the detail on the ground as well as the helicopter view. Failing to see things as they are harms you, your employees, and your entire organization.

I also call these blind spots responsibility leaks. This video outlines three commons ‘leaks’ and this article outlines a few more.  Truthfully consider if any of them apply to you.

1. I’m a great boss. I know my staff appreciates and respects me.

How do you know that? Have you conducted an anonymous survey? Have you directly asked for feedback during meetings? Has your boss or your Board interviewed your staff? How do you know what your employees really think of you?

2. I don’t waste time. My problems with time are created by the organization.

What criteria do you use to assess how wisely you utilize time? Being wildly busy and getting a lot done doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to manage your time. Are you spending time on what is truly important, what is in alignment with your values and priorities?

3. I’m an excellent communicator. I share extensively, send hundreds of emails, and respond to all phone calls.

Well, you are using a lot of words in a day’s time. But are they the right words, the most appropriate words, the most helpful words, the most needed words? Do you communicate efficiently, clearly, and accurately? Do your communiqués add value? Or are they cluttered with fluff and fog?

4. I treat people fairly. I treat everybody the same way.

Treating everyone the same is not necessarily fair. Many people don’t understand this. When you’re managing staff, sometimes you have to individualize the response, the discipline, the rewards. Know your employees. Do what is right for them in accord with their unique personalities and needs.

5. I deserve this position. I’ve worked here for twenty years.

Nobody deserves to be promoted to a management position based upon longevity alone. What skills do you bring to the table? What personal characteristics? What disciplines? What value? What are you willing to sacrifice, and what are you willing to embrace? Management is hard work. It’s a privilege filled with a great deal of responsibility.

6. I always know what to do next, no matter how difficult the situation.

At first blush, this seems like a statement to celebrate. Be careful, however, Are you relying exclusively on yourself, or do you proactively seek other people’s input? The best decisions are generally made after gathering various opinions and lots of information. If you depend only on yourself, you run the risk of missing critical parts of a problem or critical components of a solution.

7. I can keep living my crazy schedule. I work out, eat right, and catch up on sleep over the weekend.

The reality is that nobody can keep living on the edge indefinitely. Sooner or later, the craziness catches up with you. Maybe you exercise, but do you get enough sleep consistently? Maybe you eat nutritiously, but do you take time to relax every day? Perhaps you eat right, sleep enough, and work out, but do you invest in your family to nurture healthy relationships? Crazy schedules usually don’t leave room for some of these.

8. I’ll always work here. Everybody knows I can’t possibly be replaced.

Anyone can be replaced. And fast. Don’t get complacent about your position and the length of time you’ll fill the manager’s seat. In addition to downsizing, be mindful of smarter people, sharper people, more experienced people. Don’t forget about that whole emotional intelligence piece too. If you aren’t very self aware, can’t read others well, aren’t socially savvy, and/or don’t relate to folks in meaningful ways, watch out!

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