No one would dispute the fact that managing a workforce is a tough task. In a working world dominated by anxiety, frustration and fear and with little enthusiasm and joy, managing a team, department or division is harder than ever. These days, it is easy to be a failing manager.
Here is some good news: you can prevent the aforementioned outcome by using your natural management tools, otherwise known as your instincts.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, stunning evidence from the evolutionary sciences makes the case that we are more evolved than animals because we have more instincts, not less. In other words, your instincts are not dark and primitive, but rather they are ultimate problem solvers whose collective purpose is to help you do more than survive (today's norm), but to help you thrive (today's exception).
The catch is you have to use them; a quick check will tell you that most people, for a variety of reasons, are instinctually disconnected and consequently lead a life that is more surviving than thriving, just like the current state of our country.
There are many ways to use the genius of your six hardwired instinctual tools, and those of you who can apply them most broadly will, at least according to the evolutionary sciences, lead the most thriving lives. Here are brief descriptions of your instinctual tools and some ways you can use them to manage your staff, to be an instinctual manager.
Shelter Seeking. You are hardwired to get yourself into an empowering environment, one that nourishes you and helps you grow. Do you think your staff feels as though they are growing? You currently may not be able to grow their salaries or push them up the position ladder but you can still help them emotionally grow. Find out their emotional nutrients -- the factors outside of money and position -- that make them feel as though they are developing. Chances are, you can provide some of their emotional nutrients. It is hard to feel frustrated when you feel you are developing, and some joy might creep in too.
Care Soliciting. You are hardwired to ask for help -- it is nature's chief tool for helping you protect your vulnerabilities. Most people, for a variety of reasons, hide their vulnerabilities, and thus remain plagued by them. For many, asking for help comes off as a sign of incompetency, when in reality, asking for help makes you more competent. Make it comfortable for your staff to ask for help, and make it a positive act when they do so. You might, to model the instinct, ask your staff for help and reap the benefits yourself.
Care Give. We are all hardwired to be caregivers, the purpose being to "develop the future." How many ways can you develop your staff? Be a care bear boss and give plenty of positive criticism (be improvement oriented) and recognition for little things too.
Beauty Are you one of the beautiful managers? The function of beauty is to attract, to pull things toward it. For you and in the work environment, beauty translates into likability -- the more likable you are, the more you pull your staff towards you, the more they trust you and this allows you to help them become more effective. Make yourself likable by using your sense of humor and your ears to listen well. Make your staff more attractive to those they work with by enhancing their expertise.
Cooperation. The first molecule couldn't make it by itself, so it coagulated, and ever since then it's been a team game. Your body is a prime example -- your legs might not like doing the walking while your stomach digests the good meal but if they both do their parts, each lives longer. Competition is a zero sum game and in fact, brings out the worst, while cooperation brings out the best. Create a cooperative staff by giving them a unifying identity, a nickname that they like. Yankees would be the best. You might also have staff members express what they need from each other -- recognizing interdependency increases cooperation.
Curiosity. The evolutionary function of curiosity is to motivate you to approach things -- be it a person or a book -- that can enhance your survival. For you and your staff, connecting with your curiosity instincts will accelerate your learning. Assign tasks based on interests, not competency. The former motivates the interested staff member to develop their interests. Ask your staff questions about the business that they can only answer by exploring for the answers. Have your staff do a new team "surprise" activity every month, and remember to give them a clue each week to what the surprise activity might be -- it's fun.
It's tough times these days but you can still thrive if you remember to use what Mother Nature gave you.
As the most interesting psychologist in the world, use the genius of your instincts, my friend. www.drhankw.com