Since when did mind reading become a required skill of people management?
I mean, predicting what might come out of one of my team member’s mouth at completely the wrong time and the wrong place is something I excel at and I have amazing skill at shutting that down before it even happens.
But I’m going to let you in on a tiny, little secret.
I don’t read minds.
Go ahead, take a moment to let that soak in. Yes, it’s true, I’m no super woman. I’m no X-Man. I just haven’t developed those skills (do they teach you that when you’re getting an MBA?).
I’ve been the driver some some pretty significant changes in my department over the past couple of weeks. I’ve barely struck the match at this point, I’ve yet to toss it onto the lighter fluid soaked charcoal. The match alone has some people coming to me with the look in their eye that it’s far too hot on the patio for a cook out. We sit, we chat, I ask what’s bothering them, and they return the favor with a simple look.
You know the look… it’s the “You know what I’m thinking” look.
But I don’t. I don’t know what they’re thinking any more than I know what they wrote in their diary the night before. I just don’t know and it’s frustrating me. I am a lover of conversation but not a lover of playing 20 questions. Why won’t they just say it? Is it fear of irritating me because they disagree with my actions/plans? Is it a loss of words because they haven’t figured out what the root of the problem is? Is it a lack of words because they think they should react but aren’t sure how?
Where is the feedback I so desperately wish for?
I guess I’ll give them the gift of time on this one. I’m a manager who likes to solve things. I like to collaborate and figure things out. Waiting is hard and the gift of time might as well cost $1,000,000 because I feel like a monetary gift of $999,999.99 would be easier to wrap up than time.
In the end, I didn’t come to this decision about a new path for my department over night… or even in a week. I suppose I can’t expect everyone to be on board with the change that quickly either.
It is situations like this one that add a few inches to my management wings.
For all of you managers out there, what has been one of your most recent learning experiences?