Mirror, mirror on the wall

Christmas is just around the corner and you are about to write your letter to Santa. Sticking your tongue out, head slightly tilted on the side, you will slowly write in beautiful cursive letters your request for a management course, a 360 or a series of coaching session. “Dear Santa, I’ve been such a good manager…”

But think of the modest household to which Rudolf will not even bring stock options that magic night: so many poor managers whose Blackberry stockings will not be filled with “Great Leading Principles from Leaders You Don’t Know Yet (But Maybe Will If They Break Even Someday)”, “The Art of War applied to Team Coaching” and other wonderful bedtime story books.

Santa thought of them all. There is one management tool that everyone constantly forgets: the team. My direct reports have learnt from me, from my management style, what I value or abhor, how I react in the various situations we face together (or rather: that they face alone. I scowl if they dare tell me about any sort of problem. Works every time). They found out what interested me and subjects I would not want to deal with.  They have learnt to challenge me or they have not… It all depends on me and the more we have been working together, the truer.

How is this? Two reasons mostly: I hired them for the most part (I inherited the others from my predecessor), which means I selected them from traits I appreciated (or failed to, “same difference”). And I bellwethered them there, using a selection of means ranging from performance objectives, habits and routines I had them adopt, reactions to their actions or lack thereof, recognition of certain values and not of others. In one word: example.

There we are: if you can not buy yourself a 360 for Christmas, think of the next best thing (even better if you ask me): step back, observe your team. Their strengths most probably reflect yours. The things you blame them for might very well come from you. In these times of performance appraisal, putting things back in perspective and running a quick consistency check is certainly the best Christmas gift you can offer around (ho ho ho…)

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