Understanding the other side

Photo by Scarleth White

Seth Godin writes today about watching the money:

Money is more than a transfer of value. It’s a statement of belief. An ad agency that won’t buy ads, a consultant who won’t buy consulting, and a waiter who doesn’t tip big—it’s a sign, and not a good one.

The idea – in order to really sell something, you have to understand it completely, to live it form the other side. And I completely agree. There is something about putting your own money, from your own pocket, that transmits a signal about your beliefs (and in an unrelated note it might be better than executive bonuses).

The same logic could be used to everyday people management. If you want your employees to do something, you have to do it yourself. Not only because, as Godin says, it sends a signal to your employees, but also, and this is the important part of Godin’s post, it leads to better understanding of the feelings and experiences of the employees. Simple MBWA.

It is quite clear (or is it?) that if we want to understand our customers, we need to act like customers – try to acquire a service or a product from our own company. However, the same could be said about you as a manager. Can you put yourself in your employees’ shoes and try to “acquire” feedback, recognition or just time with you.

Yes, I know, the comparison is not complete and you cannot disguise yourself as a mystery shopper in order to obtain feedback from… well, you. This line of thinking might only manifest itself as a mental exercise. But, if you think about it carefully, I am sure that you can come up with ways to actually try to acquire management services from yourself (start by examining you schedule and how much of it is dedicated to being with your employees, and which ones).

However, what is more important is the frame of mind. The understanding that as managers, we are there for our people and to help them excel, we need to try and see things from their perspective.

So, when is the last time you saw yourself from your employees’ eyes? And how? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.



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