The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
Appreciative Inquiry is a newer term not many of you may be familiar with. It is, in short, the act of learning about and appreciating the values that those around us have to offer.
You’ve heard the phrase “find the best in others.” That’s exactly what appreciateive inquiry is about. In business, and as a manager, it’s your responsibility to work with people until you uncover their positive traits – the traits you and your team can use and appreciate.
According to Carol Wilson, there are four main stages when it comes to appreciative inquiry. They are:
You start by discovering what you have – learning about what is working for your team right now and what could potentially change based on the traits and skills you have uncovered. You then take the time to think about (or dream up) the best possible outcome possible. After you have an idea, you have to design a plan that will bring those dreams to fruition. You then determine the destiny by figuring out exactly how your design can most naturally exist, combining both new and existing resources without upsetting the old systems.
You must evolve and emerge.
Appreciative inquiry isn’t about forcing change. It’s about learning about the traits, skills, and characteristics of your team members you didn’t realize existed and allowing them to evolve naturally into your processes – with a little encouragement, of course!
As a manager, you’re going to find yourself in a unique position. Your superiors will assign you a task and you’re going to turn around and delegate it to members of your team. When they’re done, you’re going to turn it in to your superiors and take all the credit.
The problem is that the more authority we have, the more we seem to value ourselves. In reality, though, we may talk more than the contributing members of our team – delegating and organizing – but when it comes to taking actual action we’re really not doing as much as we think.
So then we develop a secondary problem.
The more we think of ourselves, the less we think of the others we are working with.
That’s not good either.
You have an unabashed view of yourself. You think you’re the big cheese. And despite the fact that your team members are doing most of the work on a given project, you feel as though you are better than them and minimize the value of their work.
And their the ones doing it all to begin with.
The next time you delegate a task to your team, take a step back and think about how involve you really are in the project. When the project is finished and goes to the next level, make sure the right people know who participated and to what extent.
It’s fair, and it doesn’t make you any less of a manager. Giving proper credit will actually make you a better, ethical example!
Yesterday we started talking a bit about bias and today I want to touch just briefly one one of the four main types of bias – the conflict of interest. You may be wondering how conflict of interest can be categorized as a bias and I’m going to explain just that.
Simply put, if you are favoring people who you believe will be able to provide you some sort of perk or benefit later on down the line you have a conflict of interest. You are biased towards those people because of what you hope to get from them and instead pass over people who may be better qualified to do the work but less able to throw a perk your way.
How unfair is that?
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re the office manager in a physician’s office. A pharmaceutical representative comes into your office to try to give you information and samples about a new cholesterol medicine. When he visits he brings you free samples, a huge tray of bagels and fruit for the entire office to share, and a really nice padfolio to thank you for your time. He also tells you that for every new rX for this medication you write your office will receive a bonus or referral fee.
A pharmaceutical representative from another company comes in with a different cholesterol medicine. She brings you some free samples but doesn’t shower you with gifts. Instead she gives you a lot of great information about the drug and the research and studies behind it. The cost for consumers is a bit less than the other drug, too. The pharmaceutical company doesn’t have a referral program so you won’t get any kickbacks for selling what looks like a decent drug.
Which will you choose?
You might, right now, say that you’d pick the second but the truth is that if you were in that situation you might unconsciously choose the first. Why pass up the opportunity for a referral fee, even if the drug isn’t as great as the second, right?
Wrong. That’s comletely unethical.
But do you even realize you’re making decisions like these?
I urge you to take a close look at the decisions you’re making this year. Are they best for your team or are you looking for what’s best for you personally?
As we enter the New Year I want to kick things off by taking a cold, hard look at ethics and how they apply in the workplace. Most managers believe they are ethical and, consciously, they may be. The problem is that everyone has a habit or bias that can be viewed as slightly unethical, whether they realize it or not.
Most of us have some sort of implicit bias, whether we recognize it or not. What is an implicit bias? It is one that, despite you not saying it outright, shows in the way you act. There are a few organisations that have tested managers and individuals to uncover some of their implicit biases, including Harvard and Tolerance.org. Here are a few examples of information about biases they uncovered:
What does this mean? Let’s say, for example, you claim not to be biased towards men. You have two similar resumes on your desk and you have interviewed both candidates – one male and one female. They are both highly qualified and it’s a very difficult decision to make but we’ll say for the purpose of this example that there may be one or two areas in which the female candidate might make a better fit. You claim to be reviewing their applications from an objective standpoint but your implicit bias towards men allows you to justify hiring the male candidate instead. You literally dig for a reason not to hire the female candidate and you may not even realize why.
Being biased can be costly. You can lose great candidates or team members and possibly even be accused of bias and become the victim of a discrimination lawsuit.
I urge you to step back and think about your management ethics and hiring practices. Are you biased? Do you even realize it? Are you treating your employees fairly? Think about it and let me know.
As a manager you’re going to find that there are times when you feel a lot more stressed than you do at other times. You might even stop and wonder why you feel more stressed than those around you. The truth is that, as managers, we tend to believe we need to be perfect at everything we do. We need to be in control. We want to be right. We want our jobs done perfectly. In short, we put too much pressure on ourselves.
As you approach the New Year, take the following 5 points into consideration and see if you can begin to make tiny changes, one at a time. Eliminating some of the stress you’re putting on yourself might make your job just a bit easier to accomplish! Learn More
As a manager you’re bound to find out that not everyday is going to be as pleasant as others. You may have problems with clients or deadlines but in my experience the worst days are the ones during which your own team has trouble getting along. If your team members are in the midst of a conflict it’ll be up to you to sort things out. Here are a few tips to help make that job a bit easier.
Sometimes people argue and then things escalate until they no longer remember what the original problem was. Ask everyone involved to sit down and talk about what they perceive the problem to be. Once you all agree on a source you can start to find a solution.
Make sure everyone involved in the conflict has the opportunity to talk about what he or she not only thinks the problem is but what his opinions are and how the problem can be solved. Give each person a set amount of time to speak and make sure everyone sticks to the facts – no berating other team members.
Identify the methods each member of the group thinks need to be followed in order to reach a compromise. Not everyone will be happy with the entire outcome but there is always a way to make as many people happy as possible. Identify both long and short term goals and find ways for everyone to work toward them together.