Are you a manager from Mars?
In the popular relationship book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, chapter 2 talks about the concept of Mr Fix-it. The idea being that men see something that is broken and instantly need to jump in and fix it. Ignoring the fact that I’m not sure this is necessarily a gender specific issue, I have noticed that this “Mr Fix-it” mentality is something that most leaders and managers suffer from, when stepping into a new leadership position.
I’m here now and everything must be broken
Often when a new manager or leader, of a group, department, team etc, takes over, they instantly see things that are broken. Symptoms are everywhere, projects are behind schedule or moral is low, because if you look in any team, you can always find things to be improved. The Manager Fix-it mentality is, to quickly attempt to prove themselves and demonstrate progress by prescribing fixes. However more often than not, the symptoms they are fixing, are just that, only symptoms. The true problem is masked, or needs deeper investigation.
Listen, learn, investigate
The managers and leaders I have most admired throughout my life, and the ones I always strived to emulate, all have one thing in common, they listen first, talk second. In this context, they don’t see a symptom and start to react. They listen, learn and investigate to uncover the true cause of the symptom. Then and only then, do they start to formulate a solution, engaging all stakeholders.
A core of change management is to ensure buy in from all parties. It has been my experience that performing this investigation properly, allows you to build a relationship with your new team and provides assurance to all stakeholders they have been heard.
Unsolicited solutions are never valued
When was the last time, someone you have no strong relationship with, came up to you and gave you a solution to something, they just observed, that you welcomed with open arms? Unsolicited solutions are rarely valued, typically because they are likely solutions to the wrong problem. So next time you are stepping into take over a team, and see all raft of issues in front of you, think about coming from Venus. Think about understanding the big picture before you jump in with your “solutions”.