Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fear of phoning, part II: The phoner's side of the story

I was ready for the reaction almost as soon as I hit "publish" on Fear of phoning reporters & others: Just your team or a wider problem?  And yes, it arrived as expected:

"What about those of us who work for an anxious boss? There's no way for us to guess how she'd do it, and no matter what we do--even if it's a good call that accomplishes the work--we still get the feeling that what we did fell short. So we're gun-shy."

I've coached lots of teams where this happens. It goes back to the "fear of shipping" described in yesterday's post, and I think the pressures of the recession, and job uncertainty only add to the stakes of what could go wrong. For media relations teams, the diminishing pools of reporters to call don't help, either.

But in the magic that is the Internet, yesterday, this Lifehacker article fell into my reader:  Embrace the inevitability of being wrong to boost workplace productivity.  I commend it to you, and perhaps you can bring it up at the next staff meeting (or accidentally forward it to the entire team).  It looks at a new book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Shultz, that offers up as good a starting place as any for a real discussion about whether your team can cultivate a better learning environment.  The book looks at examples of industries and companies where mistakes get processed as lessons.

Managers may want to take a look at this Silicon Alley Insider post, Why Leaders Should Always Look Confident, Even When They Don't Really Know What They're Doing -- bearing in mind that we none of us know what we're doing 100 percent of the time. Embracing that attitude (and projecting confidence to your team) is the right combination of humility and support that make up your task.

Team members, you still  need to place those calls--if only so you'll have enough data to counter the worried manager effectively. Oh, yeah, and get the darned work done.  Arm yourself with information on building a mistakes-included culture to make the long-term change your team needs.  Then read Chris Brogan's post on "make the ask" for more reinforcement, whatever it is you're asking for.

No comments: