27 Mar March 27, 2020 – Inc. Leadership Peter Economy and Podcast Superstar Robert Brus
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The thing we are the worst at is communicating. Bosses don’t
communicate enough. When they do communicate, they don’t communicate what employees need to know.
Peter Economy is author of a new book called, Wait, I’m the Boss?!?: The Essential Guide for New Managers to Succeed from Day One. This is a go-to guide for anyone in their first management position or an experienced leader who are looking to brush up on their skills. Peter is the bestselling author of Managing for Dummies and a top columnist at Inc.com where he is known as The Leadership Guy. He routinely works with C-level executives, executive coaches and consultants worldwide. He averages more than 1 million page views a month for his more than 1,500 columns published to date.
Robert Brus – Founder of Go All In – Podcast Superstar
I love to hear peoples’ stories and to understand what it is
that made them successful and made them Go All In.
After a successful career with the Australian Defence Force, Robert Brus experienced many different jobs but ultimately he found his feet outside the military as a digital marketer and entrepreneur. Now, he is running several businesses. He created the “GO ALL IN” podcast, a top ten iTunes show, to share the stories of all the amazing people he knows. He hopes to add some value back to the world with these lessons learnt and the heartache and triumph that they have created.
Highlights from Peter’s Interview
The book is not only for entrepreneurs, but also for people who are in management positions. You got a lot of entrepreneurs who become managers. It’s interesting because you might be an entrepreneur one day, and the next day, all of a sudden, you’re in charge of a team of people. So many entrepreneurs find themselves in the position of being new managers, much to their surprise. I don’t think many entrepreneurs think about it, but all of a sudden, now they’re a new manager. There’s a whole different set of skills from being an entrepreneur to becoming a manager. There are actually life changing decisions that you’re making with people’s lives.
There are a lot of bad bosses out there, unfortunately; the statistics are pretty staggering when you look at that. Gallup did a survey, and they found out that bad bosses are the number one reason why employees quit their jobs; it’s that bad. They don’t quit overpay so much, they don’t quit about wherever they’re working, it’s because they’ve got a bad boss. This whole employee-manager thing, it’s something that so few of us have ever been trained to do to be a manager. That’s what this book is primarily about; here you are, put into a position of being a manager or being a boss. I know when I was put in charge of 500 people when I took a new job, and I had never managed more than about five people and all of a sudden I was in charge of 500 people, I had never been trained to be a manager; I just watched what my boss did. I was like a fish out of water. I was lucky I had good people working for me because I was not a great manager, I’ll tell you that.
I think many of us think that we are going to stop repeating those mistakes that we’ve experienced or that our boss made when we become a boss, but I think we get overwhelmed. I think most bosses are so busy doing the job, they’re under pressure; to come up with results, to have great financial results, to get things done, develop new products, provide new services, and they get so overwhelmed by that, managing becomes sort of the tail end of the whole thing. So, you just end up defaulting to the same kinds of behaviors that your boss taught you.
I intended this book to be something that you could benefit from as a new boss or a current boss who just needs to brush up their skills. But I think most people know where they need more strengths and they need to work on things. Like, I think a lot of bosses fail to delegate. I know as myself, personally, when I was a boss, I thought no one’s going to do it as well as I can do it, so maybe I should just do it instead of training someone to do what I thought I should do right. So many bosses do that; they think that I’m just going do it all, and that’s a recipe for failure. When you look at the table of contents of the book, you see there’s a whole chapter just on delegation. If I need to become a better delegator, I’ll read this chapter and I’ll learn how to become a better delegator.
The thing that we’re worst at is communicating, I think bosses in general don’t communicate enough. I think that when they do communicate, they don’t communicate what employees need to know to do their jobs the best they could do. We used to call it Mushroom Management back in the business world, before I became a full-time writer; you just keep everybody in the dark, and so many managers do that. So I think the number one thing you could do as a manager right off the bat to improve your management, to improve your leadership, is communicate more, tell people what they need to know to do their job, tell them financial results, tell them how what they do affects the financial results of the organization; those kinds of things.
I think it’s more just engaging your employees in casual conversations all the time. There used to be a thing we used to call Management by Walking Around, and that’s where you actually get to know your employees, you get to spend time with them, you just walk around. Instead of hiding out in the office all the time, get out and talk to your employees, see what they’re doing, get to know them, tell them what’s going on with the business, ask them what’s going on with them, ask them how they can help you, ask how you can help them do their jobs better. I think it’s more casual. Surely, you’re going to have structured meetings you’re going to have probably a weekly staff meeting, maybe a quarterly all-hands meeting; those kinds of things are important, but I think most important of all is just getting into those casual communications, what we call Water Cooler Conversations; casually getting to know your employees and talking to them about what they’re doing and letting them know what you’re doing.
There’s been a lot of research done in change in the world of change, and most change initiatives fail. The reason they fail is because the people who are supposed to do the change don’t do it. It’s one thing for a leader or someone at the top of the organization to say, “Okay, we’re going to undo all the sins of the past and make things different starting today or starting tomorrow”, but you’ve got to get everybody else on board. You’ve got managers who’ve got to get on board, you’ve got maybe frontline supervisors who’ve got to get on board, you’ve got employees who’ve got to get on board. Those people have to see what’s in it for them, those people have to be aligned with your vision and be supportive of it, just like you’ve got to be supportive of them. So, you know, I think what that takes is involving them in those decisions, you know, making them a part of the process, you know, you don’t just post on them a change. You don’t just say, okay, starting tomorrow, I’m going to change everything without even having your input without even involving you in the process. We’re just going to change that’s, that’s doomed to failure. Now, I would say 99% of the time So I would say it’s almost like town, how town hall meetings you get people involved early on, you have meetings, you gather people together, you get their input, you ask for suggestions. And you involve them in this change initiative and make them a part of it so that they feel invested in that change.
The tough nut here is mentoring or supervising those whom you worked with as equals, and that’s the situation I was in myself. When I went from managing 5 people to 500 people, I was brought in over someone who thought they should have had my job, and oh boy, that was a difficult situation. I think you just have to continue to work with them earn their respect. The most difficult thing I think for a lot of managers is earning the respect of the people who were your friends; people who were your peers, people who you got promoted over. You’ve got to earn that respect, and I think that comes with time. I don’t think it happens just instantly. You’ve got to show them that you know what you’re doing, you’ve got to make good decisions, you’ve got to show them that you’re a good boss, and you’ve got to change that perception that they’re just your friend to that now you’re the manager and the boss. It’s not easy, it’s something that takes time, and you may have to end up letting go some of those people who can’t make the transition. If someone that was your friend or an acquaintance three months ago, if they’re just not working out and they can’t accept that change in your relationship, then you may have to let them go.
You should know what’s safe to delegate because there are some things that managers just should not delegate, and those are typically financial planning things. So maybe you’ve got to put together your budget that goes forward, you may have a board of directors you’re working with which needs to approve it, you may have your own boss that needs to approve it. So, for example, that kind of thing can’t be delegated and that’s something you’ve got to hang on to. But there’s a lot of things that you as a boss do repetitively that you shouldn’t be doing every time, that’s real typical; reports, for example. Maybe you’ve got an expenditure report that you do on a monthly basis. Why are you doing that every month? Why are you taking your time to put together an expenditure report? Why don’t you have your employees do that? Why don’t you pick out an employee to do that? Maybe there’s something as far as just gathering information, maybe instead of you going out and doing research on your competition all the time, you give that to one of your employees to go out and research the competition and put together a report about that. What is it that your employees are going to need to learn for the future for them to progress in the organization? Everybody wants to look for the next promotion, and you want to know where your employees are going to go, you want to have a plan for them. You should be giving them the kind of tasks that they need to learn to progress in the organization, to eventually maybe aspire to your job. So definitely, you want to give them those kinds of things.
I would say that there’s some millennials that definitely are presumptuous about promotions, they think that they should be promoted right away. I’m sort of the older school that says, you need to prove yourself first; you need to perform, you need to actually show results. I think there are a lot of people, and I don’t think they’re all just millennials who think that they’re the chosen ones and they should just get promoted, whether they perform or not. They think I’ve been here for six months, I’m due a promotion. To me, that doesn’t make any sense, I want to see results. Everybody should have a plan for what they’re going to provide to the organization; they should have outcomes; they should have goals specified that they’ve signed on to. If they’re performing, why not promote them? If they’re not performing, then I don’t care if they’re a millennial or not.
Check out my website “petereconomy.com” where you can get more information about the book and a preview copy you can look at.