A few weeks ago I took a fast reading course (actually, a 3D reading course). The course only gives you the basic concepts, and then you have to practice the skills for about a month. So the last few days I have been reading a book a day. I started with easier books and found myself reading a number of business books.
Almost every time I read such a book, I am amazed how much of its content is dedicated to fields like training, human and leadership development and feedback. Almost every book I read has an episode dedicated to these subjects, emphasizing its importance and giving tips how to become a more efficient leader and manager by being a coacher and by giving and receiving sound feedback.
Off course, this does not surprise me. I have known for quite some time that in order to be a truly successful manager and team leader, you have to sharpen your “soft skills”. The real wonder is why do so many people and organizations ignore these soft skills and try to manage people with communicating with them.
In the last few years since I graduated and my friends started to work in “real jobs” (by which I mean not student jobs) I find myself talking to people in different positions and in different companies. The number one complaint of people is the lack of soft skills by their managers. They get no feedback and they feel like no body listens to them. I know this by personal experience. When I worked as a lawyer (not to mention an intern in a law office) feedback was scarce, to say the least. The management of the firm was not really interested in what we had to say. Even when I came with initiatives to improve the training process of interns it was disregarded. Now, when you an employee who wants to initiate, the only thing you can do worse than turning him down, is ignoring him. But the problem was that there was no clear communications between the “management” of the firm and the “regular” workers.
This really surprises me. The people running that firm were very intelligent people. As I am sure where the people who were the bosses of friends, I am sure, that if you ask them, they will explain how important communication and feedback are. So why, don’t they practice it. In two off the books I read, the authors pointed out that most Americans who quit their job does not do it because of their salary, but because they feel they are not appreciated enough or because they don’t like their boss. Those books are filled with examples of business doing just that. Businesses are losing great people because there is no coherent communications and feedback system.
Why is it so hard to create a system where there is ample room for feedback in both directions? What makes this a great challenge for a manager? What is it about the feedback and other “soft skills” that makes people run away and focus on numbers or on giving orders?
These are questions I ask myself all the time and that I will try to answer in this blog. I would appreciate comments and ideas…