Not that I look for a lot of sound business advice from Mafia movies, but there was one good tip in the Godfather: “Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately.”
No one likes bad news, but I’d rather know about it sooner rather than later so I can do something about it. I have found that being open to this really helps you in your career. People seem genuinely surprised and pleased when you are open to feedback.
Of course, I don’t suggest reacting to the bad news with severed horse heads. There might be a downside to that.
A key success factor is not shooting the messenger. I have a saying that you should give people the benefit of the doubt, because you can always overreact later. That has saved me from counterproductive reactions many times.
That doesn’t mean I’m soft on crime. I’ve had to fire several people over the years who quit doing quality work and wouldn’t respond to coaching.
Also, I’ve found that communicating bad news upwards in a proper way makes a big difference. Glossing over or hiding problems is never a good strategy. People respect you more when you own mistakes and quickly convey recovery and prevention plans.
Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Warning: Apparently self-serving post coming up. But hey, I think it is good advice so I’m sharing it anyway.
There is a term for taking credit for someone else’s accomplishments: Stealing.
Always make sure that your employees get every bit of credit that they deserve for their accomplishments and ideas. You may be tempted to take credit yourself, but giving them their due will motivate them and increase their trust in you. You will still get the overall credit for your group’s accomplishments. Oh, and it has the added benefit of being true.
I have one employee who can still tell you every last detail about a supervisor who stole one of his ideas ten years ago. And I just heard about a Director who is notorious for stealing credit that others deserved. He deprived people of their just recognition and hurt his credibility. I’m sure you have stories of your own.
So what do you do or what will you do when you are in that situation?
I recently had a case where this came into play. I sent an email about a new process and my supervisor wrote back noting that it was a good idea. I immediately wrote back thanking him for the feedback but pointed out that the idea belonged to one of my employees. I cc’d the employee. (I hadn’t mentioned the employee in the original email because the recipients were unlikely to be happy with the process change and I preferred that they blame me instead of my employee.)
So aside from the truth-in-reporting aspect here, what is the net effect? While my supervisor no longer credits me with the original idea, he was quick to credit me for being transparent and a good manager. The employee was recognized by the CFO and he realizes that he’ll get credit for all his work and that he can trust me. He was very happy.
It’s win-win, and it is really simple: Just be intentional and habitual about giving praise and credit when it is earned.