April 16, 2007
Liz published this at 10:02 am
What to Look for Before You Start
So we meet for the first time, and we think we want this job or project. Sometimes we get so involved in proving ourselves worthy, we forget to look at the person we might be working with (or for) until after the project has started.
Whoa! If only we would slow down. A longer look before we jump into a relationship can often save so much heartache and time — yes even money — later. Just a longer look might change our mind about how much we want this job and the manager or client who comes with it.
10 Things to Look for in Managers and Clients
Managers and clients. They’re people too — human as we are — replete with our great qualities and our great . . . ahem . . . tiny . . . things that need working on. Every one of us has ’em. Some go better together than others, that’s all.
When it comes right down to it, we can spend more time with managers and clients than we do with our family and friends. Managers and clients have an impact on the quality of our lives. So it makes sense to make sure that they are the sort of people we work well with. Here are 10 great traits to look for in managers and clients when you’re deciding whether you want that job.
- They already know who they are. A great manager or client is self-aware. You can talk frankly about what you do, what’s going wrong and right, without needing to preface or sugarcoat what you have to say. They look at the work. They look at you. They look at the big picture, their boss, and the market without using that information to define who they are.
- They listen actively. When you speak, they hear what you say and what you mean. They ask questions to be sure that they understand. They are curious about your ideas and your view point, because they know listening is one of the most powerful tools available to them.
- They are “the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage “ When they model or teach, it’s by telling stories or by participating with authentic curiosity and willingness to share.
- They don’t add too much value. They know when it’s someone else’s turn. Sometimes they don’t attend a meeting or don’t lead a discussion because they know that they can douse a fire by adding too much fuel.
- They respect the intuitive detail of those who do the work. Great managers know that those who live the work on a daily basis take in information and perceptions at every level. Those managers and clients realize that there’s a wealth of experience to be tapped if the right questions are asked. They also know that sweeping general decision they might make can disregard something hidden in that intuitive detail.
- They stand outside the process as much as they can. Great managers know that if they participate in the thinking, then there is no one outside of it to serve as a check. They have learned to hold the bigger picture to balance the folks who have the intuitive detail.
- They offer new perspectives and paradigms. When the going gets rough, great managers know what to say to get things back on track. They restore the vision by re-aligning the perspective that may have gone off track. They offer new paradigms when folks get stuck in problem thinking.
- They hold folks accountable with both head and heart. Great managers hold us all accountable for our professional behavior — in process, communication, personal, and interpersonal skills. That is a promise of a team well led and a project done well.
- They understand the business they are in. This may sound obvious but, if they don’t understand the business they are in, those above don’t matter, because we’ll all run out of money and have to find other jobs.
- Great managers understand that all people including themselves can only do what is humanly possible. They know that as long we can say that no one is going to die and we’re still going to eat tomorrow we are indeed lucky.
So the next time we go in for that job or that project, we might review this list from the bottom to the top and jot a few questions of our own. After all, a good fit saves everyone time and heartache and lots of other things you can count on a spreadsheet, that on a sunny morning don’t seem to mean nearly as much.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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