Managing from a Positive Perspective

by Eric Wann

With the conclusion of our discussion of managing challenging employees, it seems appropriate to reinforce one overriding principle: managing from a positive perspective.  The role of today’s manager or supervisor can be a very difficult one.  There are demands from so many more directions than even 30 years ago.  The role continues to morph into one that incorporates more areas and with them, additional responsibilities.  With the increasing demands of the position, it is easy to lose this perspective on managing people, or worse, come at the job from the opposite perspective.

In some areas this requires only a modest correction in our mindset.  For instance, the concern for, and the measurement of, employee turnover is one example.  There are many discussions going on today in companies around employee turnover and the effect that it has on daily operations.  My preference is to discuss the topic of employee retention instead of turnover.  Yes, I understand that they represent the same thing, a measurement of how many people stay with an organization and how many are “released to the marketplace”.  However, with employee retention, the emphasis is on keeping employees versus how many have left.  The message to your people is “what can we do to increase the percentage of employees who stay?”

Another area that this positive perspective of managing people appears is during the discipline process.  Most organizations have a progressive discipline process that moves through steps such as verbal warning, written warning, suspension and finally termination.  Too many managers view this process as simply the number of steps needed to terminate an employee.  They are just trying to fulfill the “requirements” set out by their HR group or their lawyer to reduce the possibility of litigation after the employee has been released.  In reality, these managers have already given up on the employee ever becoming successful within their organization.  This perspective is wrong and needs to be changed.

The true purpose of any disciplinary process is to help the employee change negative behaviors, actions or results in order to become a contributor to the company’s overall success.  Unfortunately, this is not going to happen if a manager or supervisor is only “going through the steps.”  Success in this area takes focus and attention on the true issues and planning to help the employee become successful.  Yes, it is more difficult and demands more time and attention from the manager, but the impact for both the employee and the organization can be tremendous. 

The source of this positive perspective on managing people begins with you, the manager.  This is not a once in a while perspective, but a consistent day-to-day approach to your work.  You hold the key to whether your people believe that they are needed, valued and recognized for their contributions.  Bring this positive attitude with you every day as you come in to work and make sure that you carry it with you throughout each day!