Inside the Mind at Work - Manage for Progress

by Brusman, Dr. Maynard Tuesday, December 13, 2011
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One of my executive coaching clients, the Managing Partner of a Bay Area Law Firm and I were recently engaged in a conversation about assessing his firm’s talent. She talked about how one of the manager’s in the San Francisco location didn’t feel that one of her employees had the capability of developing into a leadership role at the firm.

The manager displaying poor emotional intelligence communicated his assessment to the individual in a way that undermined the employee’s sense of self efficacy. The employee was so demoralized that she asked for a transfer to a different location, and talked about her “bad experience” with other employees increasing organizational negativity. Her level of engagement diminished and the culture was adversely impacted.

My executive coaching client talked about damage control. He asked me if I could facilitate a workshop for the firm managers on how giving emotionally intelligent feedback can improve workplace relationships.

“So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to do work.” ~ Peter Drucker

As any fan of The Office can attest, negative managerial behavior severely affects employees’ work lives.
Managers’ day-to-day and moment-to-moment actions also create a ripple effect, directly facilitating or impeding the organization’s ability to function.
The best managers recognize their power to influence and strive to build teams with great inner work lives.

In The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work (Harvard Business Press, 2011), Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer describe how people with great inner work lives have:
• Consistently positive emotions
• Strong motivation
• Favorable perceptions of the organization, their work and their colleagues
The worst managers undermine others’ inner work lives, often unwittingly. Through rigorous analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries provided by 238 employees at seven companies, Amabile and Kramer found surprising results on the factors that affect performance.

What matters most is forward momentum in meaningful work—in a word, progress. Managers who recognize the need for even small wins set the stage for high performance.

But surveys of CEOs and project leaders reveal that 95 percent fundamentally misunderstand the need for this critical motivator.

One of the most important questions to ask is “Do some managers in my workplace perhaps unintentionally undermine others’ inner work lives?”
Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their high performance leadership development program.