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Remove the Obstacles

Back in November, I blogged about what I thought was the most important thing you need to do as a manager in order to be effective. For those of you that didn’t read that post, the theme was one of communication. I felt, and still do, that it is critical for the employer/employee relationship that most important thing that managers are able to do is to effectively communicate with their employees. I am not wavering on that opinion; however, I would like to add to the list of critical skills that I think make for a successful manager.

In reflecting on previous jobs and managers that I have had, as well as observing and coaching other managers where I have worked, it has become apparent to me that great managers also have another skill/trait in common. That is, they are adept at removing obstacles to their employees’ success. Think about it, at the very least, if you as a manager (or if YOUR manager) did nothing other than communicate effectively and remove obstacles to success, wouldn’t that make for a pretty good reporting relationship?

ObstaclesCase in point, my wife and I were frantically trying to prepare for a trip to Florida two weeks ago. My wife’s income is dependent on hours she bills for as well as commission sales; as such, our family budgeting can be pretty tricky especially when we head out on vacation. Bottom line is that she doesn’t get paid when she doesn’t work (bill hours). However, days before leaving on vacation she had made several key sales and as such would be receiving commission pay outs on her pay cheque upon returning from vacation. Needless to say, this would have alleviated a lot of her pre-vacation angst and paid for much easier pre and post vacation budgeting!

The problem arose the day before we were set to leave on vacation when she found out from her payroll/accounting group that she in fact would not receive the commission owed to her until certain paper work elements were taken care of (beyond her control). Bottom line was that she would not see these commissions for several pay periods. You can imagine her stress at this point as she had been counting on seeing that pay out upon her return from vacation. Here is where the good management comes in to play – upon taking this concern to her manager, the manager’s response was, “Leave this with me, I will take care of this and make sure this gets squared away so that when you get back from vacation, you will be paid for these commissions. Just focus on your clients, get ready for your vacation and enjoy the time off.”

As an HR person when I heard this I got all tingly. (I know, I need to get out more). But seriously, what a powerful management statement that was. Think about it, in that one statement, here is what the manager said/implied:

• You are important to me as an employee and I understand that this is causing you stress. I will help you with this.
• Your clients are important to you and your time is more valuable than having you mess around with making sure you get paid properly. I will take care of this.
• Your vacation is important. You need your vacation and you need to be relaxed. I will make sure this happens.
• Bureaucracy and paperwork are not important to me. Your job satisfaction, engagement levels and ability to perform are what are important. I will take care of this problem for you.

Needless to say, my wife was over the moon with this level of support from her manager – who just so happened to be a new manager. So not only was this a powerful moment for them, it also helped to build the trust between them which is so important between a manager and their employee. So, as managers, here is your lesson – be an obstacle remover! Get rid of those things in the run of a day, week, month, etc. that cause your employees’ to experience pain. Send the message that your staff is important to you so will take care of them. Send the message that you will remove/eliminate anything that is impacting their ability to effectively do their jobs.

At the end of the day, not only will you have a motivated and engaged staff, you will also have a staff that trusts you and that is critical to your and their success. Oh yeah, I almost forgot – we got back from vacation last week (which we thoroughly enjoyed) the commission pay outs were on my wife’s cheque. Score one for the manager. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net



One Response

  1. Reblogged this on The Armchair HR Manager – Advice from an "HR Fan" and commented:

    From the (not so) dusty archives

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