10 Ways to Motivate a Difficult Manager
It’s not my fault
When I’m running a seminar for managers on how to motivate their staff, the comment I hear most is – ‘How can I motivate my staff when my manager doesn’t motivate me, and even makes my life difficult?’
So the next question is – what are you going to do about it?
One way to do it
One of the best ways to motivate your staff is to give them feedback on their performance.
You tell them when they do things you do like and you tell them when they do things you don’t like.
It’s exactly the same with your manager.
Now I appreciate that we’re getting into scary territory here but you’re going to have to be brave and take some action.
There’s no point in going on about your manager needing to change, because that’s unlikely to happen – unless you do something about it.
The rules for giving your manager feedback are almost the same as those for your staff.
- Do it ASAP
When your manager says or does something you do or don’t like, you need to say something right away.
If it’s something you do like, it’s not much use saying something weeks later – ‘Thanks for helping me with that difficult customer last week Dave.’
Dave is going to have a bit of a problem remembering that situation and the effect of the feedback is totally wasted.
It also makes sense to tell Dave about something you don’t like as soon as possible.
- Do it in private
You really don’t want members of your team or your colleagues hearing what you say to your manager be it good or bad.
- Check that it’s okay to speak
Make sure that you have your manager’s full attention. There’s no point in saying what you have to say if they have something else on their mind, or they’re working on their computer. It’s also good manners and shows respect.
- Announce your intentions
If your manager is not used to receiving feedback from you, what do you think runs through their mind when you pull up a chair or ring them on the phone – they think it’s bad news!
They think you’re about to complain about something, or you’ve done something wrong, or there’s a problem.
It’s important to tell them up front what you want to speak about.
You might say – ‘Laura, I’d just like to thank you for something you did today.’
Or if it’s something you don’t like you might say – ‘Laura, I’d just like to talk about something you said today that I’m uncomfortable about.’
- Tell them how YOU feel about their behaviour
This is nothing to do with anyone else. Don’t say things like – ‘The team don’t like the way you speak to us.’
Use lots of ‘I’ messages; say things like – ‘I’m unhappy with the way you told me how to do that job today. It made me felt embarrassed in front of my team members. Would you be prepared to speak to me in private in future?’
- Focus on one thing at a time
Don’t confuse your manager with a whole list of behaviours. If it’s things that you do like then you’re in danger of coming across as patronising. If it’s things that you don’t like, then you may come across as a whinger.
- Be specific
When you’re giving your manager feedback it’s important to focus on job-related behaviour and not on the personality of the individual.
If you feel a bit uncomfortable, try to focus on the manager’s behaviour in terms of how they said or did something. That’s what you’re giving feedback on, not them as a person.
Avoid ‘You’ messages. It becomes easier if you’re using ‘I’ messages and being very descriptive about what you’ve seen or heard.
You could say something like – ‘I liked the way you showed me how to lay out that report – thank you, Jeff.’ Or – ‘Jeff, I’m concerned by the way you told me how to do that report. It’s important for me to get it right, would you be prepared to spend a bit more time explaining what you require?’
- Include the customer and the organisation
Whenever appropriate; relate what your feedback is about, to how the customer or the business could be affected. This, of course, could be an internal or an external customer.
- Get input
When giving constructive feedback, it’s important to get the manager’s input.
You might say – ‘I’m unhappy with the number of tasks you’ve asked me to do this week, and I’m concerned that I may not be able to do them in the best interests of the business. However I’m willing to listen to what you have to say, and discuss how we can make efficient use of my time.’
- Don’t leave them low
This is particularly important after giving feedback on something you’re not happy about. This isn’t an attack on the manager; it’s about job-related behaviour.
Think about how you feel when one of your team speaks to you about something they’re unhappy about. It can leave you low and possibly stressed.
Finally – be brave
There’s still a culture in some organisations that doesn’t allow the boss to be challenged. It’s a case of – ‘The boss tells me what to do, and it’s my job to do as I’m told.’
It’s also the case that some managers don’t want to say anything to their boss for fear of being perceived as negative or a whinger.
Be brave and give your boss some positive feedback.
The occasional compliment or descriptive thank you will work wonders for your relationship.
And if the boss is doing or saying something you don’t like, give him or her some constructive feedback using the guidelines above.
If you follow these guidelines, then you’re much more likely to motivate your manager, manage any difficult situations, and achieve more positive results.
Excerpt from Loyalty Magazine
“All in all this is a really useful book that should be passed around the call centre, the sales team and even the family. After that, you should put it in a safe place for when you are having a bad day, and you need a few suggestions”.
Posted in: Difficult people, Leadership, Management, Motivation