It’s a NO EXCUSES Moment For Management

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The subject line in the email from Mandy’s manager said “Whereabouts?” and abruptly began with, “Where are you?”

Mandy, a 25-year-old shared employee, works for two organizations. The two entities—each with less than 50 staff—have financial connections and mutual marketplace interests. They collaborated in Mandy’s hiring and split her salary.

She began her employment two months ago—and now’s there’s a problem …

If you missed last week’s QBQ! blog— Questions Only People With Careers Can Answer YES!—Mandy would shout “YES!” to all five. Mandy loves the work she performs at both organizations. She’s a keeper.

Now, let me be clear: I am not an advocate for any person or group and never encourage “poor me,” Pity Party victim thinking.

But, I gotta say, management is failing Mandy.

The reality is, Mandy has spent her first two months defining her own job activities, responsibilities, and work schedule.

Because nobody in management has bothered.

In either organization.

And the sad part for young Mandy is this:

She thought everything was going great!

Till that email arrived. Here’s the full text:

“Where are you? Jody in HR says you’re not in our office today. I expected you to be here every day. You need to let us know when you are not going to be here. We need to talk.”

If you’ve been in the work world for a long time, recall being 25 and how you would’ve felt getting a note like that from your boss!

This note was not a positive moment for Mandy. It also represents at least four management mistakes:

  1. Mandy’s tasks, responsibilities, and schedule should’ve been defined on Day 1—by management.
  2. One-on-one, daily coaching has not occurred.
  3. The message came as an email even though the matter required a face-to-face. Or, at the very least, a phone call.
  4. The words used in the email loudly spoke, Reprimand!

I began my career selling/facilitating management training 29 years ago—so here’s what I know:

Management is obligated to provide clear direction to new team members and when new team members don’t perform, it’s a management problem, not an employee problem.

Sorry, managers, but you do not have the right to ask unaccountable, blame-oriented, externally-focused Incorrect Questions (IQ vs. QBQ tutorial) such as these:

“Why isn’t Mandy doing what’s expected of her?”

“When is Mandy going to do her job right?”

“Why isn’t Mandy in the office more???”

Outstanding managers take full responsibility for a new employee’s success by asking The Question Behind the Question—or QBQs like …

“How can I better communicate with Mandy?”

“What can I do to help Mandy succeed?”

“How can I be a more effective coach for Mandy?”

Those are the questions outstanding managers ask. Period. No excuses.

Now, before we go, allow me to provide some direction and coaching by clearly defining the lesson every manager must learn:

Outstanding managers practice PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY!

It really is as simple as that.

So please forward this blog to every manager and future manager you know. Believe me, new team members everywhere will be glad you did!

For Comment:

Describe a time you were managed this way. Tell us about a manager who did it right! If you’re a manager, what will you now do differently?

Share below!

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7 Responses

  1. I have worked in fine dinning for about 20 years and have had the pleasure of experiencing the “rainbow of management flavors”. But my first experience in the kitchen as a new cook was by far the best, my Chef worked with me daily, hand-in-hand, and spelled out expectations to every detail. Once I was trained, he left me to my station and guided me through both successes and failures. The result? I have become a Chef/Teacher who tries to show my staff the how and why of their work and instead of creating tension when they, (or I) make a mistake, we celebrate failure with a high five (really), learn from the mistake and move on. We don’t point the finger of blame, just learn.
    Thanks for the QBQ John!

  2. So I AM in Mandy’s position. I am in a new position that was created so nothing has been defined. I have been left to my own devices and only find comment if I cross over set boundary lines that I am unaware of. But along the vein of “What can I do to make it better” I was waiting for your advice to Mandy. She has a boss that hasn’t set guidelines for her and yet but the boss clearly has unspoken guidelines. So how does Mandy seize this opportunity to make it better? Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Eva, Many has been coached by yours truly to speak clearly, unemotionally and tell management that there is a lack of clarity. She’s willing to do what it takes to succeed but needs to know what they want. Nothing wrong with speaking up! You can do it too! 🙂

  3. This may not totally fit your subject, but it was definitely in the category of mismanagement. I had worked part time for a hospital for 39 years, during which time I not only performed the job for which I was hired (Clinical Laboratory Scientist), but also taught orientation classes to new employees for 10 years in addition to serving on several major committees for hospital events and problem solving. During the last year of employment, hospital census was down, and I knew that it was just a matter of time before they would eliminate my position, but I was shocked at how it happened.

    I received an email which simply stated in in one sentence: As of today, your part time position has been eliminated. There was no greeting (Dear Linda or similar), and no mention of thanks for the 39 years of loyal service. The manager did not even sign the email.

    For my exit interview I showed the new HR head the email, and told her I was shocked. She asked what I wanted done, and said simply told her that the man needed to be talked to, because I did not want any of my fellow employees to be treated like that in the future. I did receive a note of apology from the hospital president, but nary a word from the manager.

    Seven years later, I still cringe when I think of it.

  4. As a business owner and leader, I am guilty of not setting clear and concise expectations. One thing that I need to change is my awareness thinking.

    You see, I have been doing this for over forty years. What to do is so obvious that it does not need to be said. Right? WRONG!!!!!!!!

    I need to remember that people are at different points on their journey. Willie Nelson said it best in one of his songs: “He ain’t wrong, he’s just different”. I, along with my leadership team, need to remember that others are not us. We need to teach, coach, encourage and share if we are going to have a successful environment for all.

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