He always does that!
She never checks her work!
As a manager, do you sometimes have too many balls in the air and not enough time to address issues with employees? It’s only natural that we sometimes have these moments. Depending on our position, we have many more fires to put out, and it seems easier to blame the employee rather than looking deeper into the causes.
By looking deeper, I mean assuming positive intent.
It’s a popular research topic, and it seems that the best leaders assume positive intent. So, what goes into assuming positive intent?
- Asking questions – Having a short conversation with the employee can do wonders. “I saw you doing that, and I have a hard time understanding why. I know you have a well thought out reason/plan. Can you take me through that?”
- Listening – This is a skill that needs to be honed over time. It’s sometimes not the words, but it’s the tone, eye contact (from both parties), and confirming your understanding of the other. “If I heard you correctly, you said…” It’s also in asking clarifying questions to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. “I understand you’ve been busy this last week. What obstacles specifically did you face?”
After trying to understand their point of view with good listening skills, the ideal boss would look for ways to either help remove some obstacles for the employee or whatever seems to be needed (additional training, access to resources, etc.)
However, someone who does not assume positive intent will not have their listening ears open to try to understand the obstacles and issues that the employee had.
As a manager, leader, coach, and mentor, these are the opportunities for you to make a difference in that employee’s productivity and engagement. Don’t pass on these moments. Assume positive intent!