Admittedly I’m a few months behind on podcasts, so be patient with me as I discuss a couple of ideas that came across some of my favorites back in May that I just listened to this week.
First, I want to talk about the idea of Model/Coach/Care, an approach to management discussed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella with Adam Grant.
This framework, as Satya calls it, is what they expect from managers at Microsoft. The way to lead is to model the behavior you expect, coach the people who report to you, and care about them as human beings. He credits the fact that this framework was in place before the pandemic with helping the company as whole weather that storm and continue to move forward. I love this framework because it covers much of what I discuss here. Specifically, management’s actions set the tone and the example for the rest of the company, the need to develop the people who work for you, and the need to care about them. You can tell people you support them and their need for time away from work all you want. Still, if you are sending emails late at night, on weekends, or replying to numerous emails during your vacation, your actions speak much louder about what is expected of them. That’s the example they will follow and feel much less cared for than you want them to.
While I’m on the topic of caring about the people who work for you, I also wanted to share this tidbit from an episode of People I (Mostly) Admire with Jane McGonigal, a game designer, and author. In her book and during the interview, she introduces us to the idea of “Plus One.” Steven Levitt describes it:
I’ll give you just one example that I’ve used, which is as part of training for one of these gameful traits that instead of asking someone, “How has your day been?” You suggest asking them, “How is your day going on a scale of one to 10?” And then whatever the answer then you say, “What could I do to make it one better?”
Since I managed to listen to these episodes back-to-back, this simple little gamification of a conversation fit neatly into what I was already thinking from the conversation with Satya. Why not dedicate some time in our one-on-one meetings with directs to asking that simple question? “How is your week going on a scale of 1-10? What can I do to raise that score one point?” It demonstrates the coaching and caring parts of the framework perfectly. It acknowledges that, as your manager, I am there to “plus-one” your work days through coaching, support, and sometimes clearing a path for you to do better work.
Yes, it might seem silly, but it opens the door to a better conversation about the challenges of work and how a manager can step in and help. If you aren’t willing to, or able to, step in and help, why are you a manager in the first place?
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