Managing Bias

One of the most common mistakes I see managers, especially new managers, make is managing people from the assumption that everyone has the same focus on work that the manager does.  Many newly promoted managers have a desire for advancement and assume that is what everybody who works for them also wants from their career.  The truth can be much more varied than that. 

Yes, there are some people out there that want to do whatever it takes to get that next promotion.  They want to be put in front of people that can help their career.  They want to learn new and different things to expand their horizons and skills.  They don’t mind taking on that high-profile project that will require they put in extra work.  This is the exact profile of many newly promoted managers and they simply can’t imagine a world where anyone would want anything different.

The reality is there are people who don’t want all those things.  They view success in life as dependent on different things. For example, maybe they are taking care of somebody very important to them and it’s critical they leave by a specific time everyday or maybe they support a charitable organization through volunteer efforts on the weekend and they see that as a priority in their life.  It could be any number of reasons.

Dealing with your team as individuals with individual definitions of success is one of the keys differentiating mediocre managers from great managers.  Great managers understand that people have different definitions of success and find a way to help the individual to succeed as well as the business at the same time.  The key is getting rid of that “if they don’t want to get promoted, they must not want to succeed” bias that so many up and coming managers carry with them. 

Once you get rid of that bias you can then really listen to your team to find out what they want and need from you as their manager.  Maybe it’s a new piece of equipment of software to make their job more efficient.  Maybe it’s dealing with a particularly troublesome coworker.  Maybe it’s finally listening to their ideas on how to do the work better – and actually implementing a few.  Whatever it is, the benefits of helping them succeed (their definition, not yours) can be amazing.  Your team will show you loyalty and give you a level of effort that is second to none, and your team’s success will reflect positively on you, possibly bringing you that next promotion which is the success you are looking for.

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