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Friday, October 23, 2009

Guidance without Substance

I heard a story once that a junior manager came to his boss and said, "Business is bad, as you know. Morale is suffering and I've tried everything to motivate my team, but nothing seems to help."

The boss came back with, "the measure of a leader is not being able to motivate their employees when things are going well, but to motivate their people when times are tough." The junior manager, considering himself a strong leader and wanting to impress the boss, said "you're right. I'll work on that." The conversation ended and the junior manager went on his way.

As I think back on this story, it seems like the guidance provided was accurate, but there was no substance. It sounds like the boss really didn't have a good response for the manager so just came up with a "surface" answer. How about providing some pointers on how to motivate folks during tough times? How about training the junior manager (and perhaps other managers in the same boat) on what to do and say as well as how to say it?

Bottom line: Bosses need to provide guidance that is not only sound, but is applicable. If training is needed to go with it, then the training should be provided. That's what bosses are for.

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