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Blowing hot and cold

by Denny LongApril 2016

Naomi is one of those employees who seem to be a different person on any given day. One day she seems totally engaged, and the next she seems to be moody and distant. So you're left wondering what she’s thinking and how you can make her into a happy employee.

Do you have other team members who also blow hot and cold?  It can make you wonder what you’re doing as their manager that sets them off. Of course, you want to do whatever you can to maintain a happy work team. 

Maybe it’s time to bring in donuts for a morning team chat. For today, maybe you should follow Naomi back to her desk and see if she wants to get a latte, your treat. She probably needs a listening ear and an encouraging word. 

Think about this: 

Key question: As manager, are you responsible for attitudes and feelings?  More important, can you solve the personal problems of your employees?  Can you fix people?

Have you ever done work-arounds for people’s moods and personal status? Do you adapt your managing approach to how you "read" your people's emotional state? “I better not give Jeremy that task; it will set him off worse...I will watch for a better day to give this feedback…Sanjay and Sam don't seem to be getting along."

You can’t be responsible for personal problems. Even if you knew what's wrong, you can't easily change their attitudes. In fact, your people may not know what they want. And tomorrow everything starts over! 

You should expect that your employees will fluctuate in their emotional availability or attention span due to changes at work or at home. Don’t you feel ups and downs?

What is Managing Genius

  1. It starts with you. Do you blow hot and cold?  Your employees will respond to your signals and moods.  Managers don’t have the leeway to freely express their own opinions and feelings with their team.  Find a trusted colleague when you need to vent.
  2. Don’t participate. Consider how you respond to emotions and drama. Listen well, but be slow to step in and get involved.  Every issue or question does not deserve a response.  
  3. Quit your job as “Chief Fixer of People”.  People need to take responsibility for themselves and their own personal problems. Don't let yourself get pulled into too-frequent counseling sessions. Don’t let people conduct whining sessions, which only serves to encourage more whining. Face it, this is probably not your strong suit anyway.
  4. You don’t have to read their minds.  Expect adult-minded employees to eventually share what’s important for you to know. They might do this more if you keep yourself out of the office gossip, drama, and chatter. 
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