In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson published the book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the story, a lawyer investigates the activities of an old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil activities of his alter ego, Edward Hyde. The story is so well-known that the mere mention of the names “Jekyll” and “Hyde” communicates the notion of a split personality. And no one wants to work for a “Jekyll and Hyde”-type manager.
Have you ever worked with someone who was friendly and personable one moment then abrupt and standoffish the next? Have you ever known a person to demand detail in one instance and then insist you get to the point moments into your next conversation? People need to be able to calibrate to others’ behavior — it gives a sense of reliability and consistency. When that is difficult, people find the manager to be difficult.
Here are managerial actions you can take. If you use them consistently, they will help you avoid the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome and build monstrous commitment with your people.
1. Use the titanium rule of giving guidance.
It’s not the “what,” but rather the “why” that matters. Most people feel more committed when they understand why what you’ve asked them to do — no matter how seemingly insignificant — can be linked to the larger objectives of the group or the organization.
For example: “It’s important to follow up with all-new purchasing customers within 48 hours so that if there are any problems, we can fix them before they go viral.”
This way, your direction will always seem grounded in logic and not as if you’re operating with all the predictability of a Kansas twister.
2. Understand and consistently focus on others’ enlightened self-interest.
People often take action for mainly one of three dominant reasons: coercion, normative influences or a little thing known as enlightened self-interest. The problem for managers is that coercion can be fleeting — remove the punishment or the inducement, and the behavior returns to baseline. Not to mention it can produce unintended consequences (Prohibition, anyone?).
Normative influences are tough because, well, all the kids may be doing it, but they don’t do it your way consistently enough. Enlightened self-interest is really the way to go: if it’s good for the dealership, good for the customer and good for the person, why not?
When I understand frequent rearranging of the showroom floor makes the dealership seem new, inviting and can help me close more business more easily, I’m more inclined to do it and do it well. When I understand that the timeliness in which I respond to customers’ email inquiries dramatically increases the likelihood that they’ll reply to me and not the competition, I’m in. When I understand that circling back to a referring customer with the results of my conversation with their friend is not only the right thing to do, but could very well result in another referral, I get very clear about that priority.
When managers focus on enlightened self-interest, their actions are more meaningful and seem less like some kind of science experiment.
3. Continually cultivate trust.
My mentor always told me that trust is the unshakable belief that I have your best interests at heart. If I don’t trust you, I won’t even accept a compliment from you because I’ll be suspicious of your motives. If I trust you, I’ll be willing to listen to the sharpest criticism.
How can you develop trust quickly? Provide value early and often. As a manager, you can transfer needed skills, like how to open with a customer on the showroom floor, how to rebut a difficult objection, or how to perform a task on your DMS.
As a manager, if you want to develop trust quickly, you should always base your comments on observed behavior and not supposition. It’s pure speculation on your part to say, “I think you don’t like the new sales person because she’s female.” And another to say, “You may not even realize this, but I’ve observed you being quite helpful to some on the sales staff, but quite short and not so helpful to our new person. May I ask why?”
I had a person tell me once that trust was too esoteric to be considered a management topic and — speaking of supposition — you’d only ever be guessing about whether you’ve established trust or not. I completely disagree. There are real indicators that trust exists. When a person offers information you didn’t request, that indicates trust. When a person asks for your opinion or when your questions are responded to with specifics and detail, trust is displayed. If the other person is willing to listen to a dramatically different point of view, that is an indicator of trust.
The key with trust and your people is they have to know that you always have their best interests at heart. In the best organizations, trust isn’t situational.
4. Make respect a constant.
Respect is the nitrous oxide of commitment combustion. If I respect you, I’ll do just about anything to have you respect me. Respect, like many things, is reciprocal. If you demonstrate respect to me, I’ll demonstrate respect to you. So how can you earn the respect of your people? Here are some quick points:
When they speak to you, listen. Really, listen. Don’t check your email; don’t look around to see who just came in the front door. Really listen to what they have to say. Who knows? You may learn something about their customers, their challenges or yourself.
Recognize that comments from you carry more weight. As a manager, there is no such thing as an offhand comment. Your people are tuned in to what you say and are constantly trying to pick up clues. So use that filter in your head. Think before you speak.
Lose the profanity. I can swear like a sailor and do at times, but not when I’m in a business setting. If the only way you can get your point across is with expletives, you need to enlarge your vocabulary. Profanity erodes respect.
Avoid mercurial mood swings. Try not to get too high or too low. As a manager, your people will take their cues from you.
Admit when you’ve made a mistake. It’s okay to be wrong. We’ve all erred. We’ve all said the wrong thing on occasion. Few things will prove to others that you’ve got the mettle for management than being willing to admit you’ve blown a call. Admit it, and then move on.
5. Always discuss outstanding performance, be it positive or negative.
One of the biggest variables with managers is the discussion of performance. It’s easy to talk about what went well. It’s not so easy to talk about what didn’t. But that is the very definition of a Jekyll and Hyde manager — unpredictability.
Acquire the skills you need to have both behavior-reinforcing conversations and behavior-correcting conversations. You want your people to know that good or bad, tears or beers, performance will be reviewed.
Employee compliance may help the job get done, but team member commitment can create extraordinary results. When teams feel committed, they solve unsolvable issues. When teams feel committed, they create what previously didn’t exist. When teams feel committed, they anticipate what couldn’t be foretold.
FedEx, Disney and Southwest are all companies that stand out. One of the reasons they are successful is because customers know what they are going to get when they do business with them.
Do your people know what to expect when they work with you?
An award-winning author, top-rated trainer and founder of Peak Dealership Performance, Mark Rodgers holds a master’s degree in adult education and the National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional designation — only 500 people in the world have this coveted recognition. Contact [email protected] to improve your performance.