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Timeless Principle #8: Are You Sensitive Enough?

We’re more than halfway through our simple (but not simplistic) principles every managers needs to know. As a review, let’s review the first seven principles:

1. Quit focusing on the outward appearance and concentrate on what’s on the inside.  

2. Be a good listener. 

3. Put Yourself in Your Employees’ Shoes  

4. Be humble – nobody is good enough to be arrogant!  

5. Allow people to have some autonomy – don’t micromanage them  

6. It’s Not Always About the Money  

7. Ranting, raving, yelling, and screaming at employees won’t motivate them. They’ll actually think you look stupid and immature.  

Timeless Principle # 8 - Understand your employees have outside concerns. They can’t just turn off their personal lives at work.   

Those kids didn’t come in your seabag! 

Many of you probably didn’t know this, but I did a 15-year career in the Navy. Many things stand out in my mind from that experience, but the line above is at that top of the list.  

Of course any one in the Navy can expect a career that includes transfers every three years or so, but as you might imagine, it’s not always easy. As families grow, even female sailors begin to wrestle with uprooting kids from school, deployments where they might be away from home for six to twelve months at a time. It can be a challenge. One plea for mercy though never worked – at least while I was in. Never tell the detailer (the person who assigns you) that the transfer will affect the family – the response could be: Those kids didn’t come in your seabag!  

Now I’ll grant you this didn’t happen all the time, and of course the mission of defending the country requires sacrifice, but there’s no denying that a person’s mind would be consumed by thoughts of family, particularly if they were deployed. The same rule applies in any workplace.  

People spend their most productive hours in the workplace. Believe it or not, people do have a life outside the office. No matter what you do or say, you won’t EVER become more important to them than those concerns – so don’t think you can be. But do you have to coddle and baby everyone? Must you set aside your business goals to ensure their private life is working?  

Of course not! You’re a manager, not Dr. Phil. All I’m saying is to consider what a person is going through and be a little sensitive and compassionate. If an employee is experiencing stress at home and their normally good performance is slipping, show them some concern and be patient. If they’ve been a stellar performer before, they’ll get back to that level.   

Being a leader requires sacrifice and development on your part. If you’re not an empathetic person by nature, try to develop those skills. And don’t be fake about it – your employees won’t buy it. Nothing makes you look more stupid than frantically calling to find out why an employee is late to work and then telling them you were worried they might have been in a car accident. If you’re really concerned they aren’t there to do your business, tell them that, but don’t frame it around concern for well being if you really don’t care. Better to develop that compassionate spirit through some personal development.  

It’s a skill every good leader and manager needs to know!

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