Are your staff afraid to share what is going wrong in your company? Do problems keep happening, and you don’t know why?
A great solution is to step into the roles of your staff and see the situation first-hand.
One fantastic technique is what I call “Employee For a Day.” It is a simple, hands-on activity where an executive leader leaves their role, and she or he sits in the seat of employees to see the organization from their point of view.
In my previous post, I describe what happened when I entered the day-to-day world of my staff. It humbled me, challenged me, and ultimately led to several changes in the organization.
There were a few drawbacks as well. Here are all the dirty details of how to get started.
Do you ever go through an “a-ha moment” that suddenly makes you aware of a totally new perspective?
That happened to me a few years ago. Like many top-level leaders, I had slowly and imperceptibly developed “Corporate Ladder Bias” during my transition from employee to executive. This subconscious change occurs when our field of vision is consumed with all the problems and headaches at the management level. We become blind to the day-to-day frustrations of what I call the “Foundational Staff.” These are employees at the lowest levels of an organization, including:
Balance is very difficult for leaders. When things go wrong, many of us find it hard to stay calm, cool, and collected.
Leaders are expected to meet objectives, yet also be approachable. To maintain control, but welcome differing opinions. To motivate staff, yet manage ongoing risks.
A few years ago, I was hired as director at a healthcare facility in Minnesota. It was a perfect fit for my experience and training. The leadership team was encouraging, as were the members of my department. And I really loved being in a long-term care environment.
But despite all the support, I found myself increasingly stressed and anxious. The problem wasn’t just the high-pressure environment; instead, it was a battle happening in my mind. As an introvert, I do my best work in periods of silence and reflection. My information-gathering process is intuitive, because I rely on connections between things that are not obvious to others. Rather than following a specific pathway, I look for hidden clues and investigate the root causes of problems. My process may be unconventional, but it gets results.
Unfortunately, executive roles typically do not welcome an intuitive thinking process. And this clash — between my natural temperament, and a system that rewards fast and decisive action — resulted in a very high-stress environment.
Why was it so difficult for intuitive leaders to fit the mold of traditional corporate thinking?
Is it possible to find a balanced leadership style?