Hack that NOT COOL Boss in three steps
Why Was I Sooooo Freakin’ Dumb???
After successfully screwing up in management and being the “not cool boss” a few million times, I finally got it. As a manager, I realized…all that my people wanted were the same things I wanted…get ahead, make more money, get better projects…get noticed AND above all, be ENGAGED and TURNED ON about my work!
Long before I ever became a manager, I secretly wished I could find the perfect manager who could set my ass and my career on fire! Seriously! I mean it! I really didn’t know how to do it myself. Even after reading a shit-ton of “How to” books after serving 4 years in the military, I wanted to be excited about my work and I wanted to be excited about my life and my job but no matter how bad I wanted to be excited, I just couldn’t get the right vibe going.
I was one of those Vets that didn’t get a fanfare welcome home (aw, poor me, lol) and had a very difficult time finding work even after I attended college. Finding someone, I thought, with the kind of energy I was used to in the Navy was, well, going to be impossible. Until one day…I accidentally found him.
The Guy Who Taught Me The Secret to Engagement
Luis, is a facilitator for a personal growth seminar that I decided to attend on a recommendation from a friend to cure my shyness and some of my personal problems. The man was engaging! He’s like Tony Robbins before Tony Robbins was Tony Robbins. This dude was LIT the f UP! He never stopped and to this day I’ve not met anyone quite like him and for a while, I was an intern and eventually worked for him for several years. What always stuck out for me about Luis was what he taught me…to be a kind, engaging kind of guy.
Fast forward 10 years, after leaving his organization and I was a manager for my own start-up. After not being in his engaging environment for years, I had seriously forgotten most of my engaging skills and I found myself struggling with my own team’s results. Basically, I had forgotten about Luis and what it was like to be around someone really engaging. Geez, what a difference environment makes.
And then one day, it was like BOOM! You know how it is, you’re driving and all of a sudden, wham! Well, one day, I was driving and boom…I remembered Luis! The way he used to engage me and what he had taught me about being engaging. I was kinda feeling dumb for forgetting but hey, whatever. I just kept thinking about how he used to so casually ask me personal questions about my life and my family, about my business goals, about my struggles and about the direction I wanted to take my life. And just by talking casually about it with him really helped to make things clearer in my mind. His questions made me want to work harder and be a better me. That’s when “I got it!” This is exactly what I needed to do with my team.
Hack 1 – Let Your People Get to Know You Better
And as I started to remember how Luis had engaged me, I realized that the real cause of my team problem was simple. My people didn’t know enough about me and I didn’t know enough about them for us to WANT to support each other in our goals. Although one major challenge I had was that most of my team worked in the field and never attended weekly meetings because of distance, I still decided to start engaging with them anyway by text and email and on the phone asking similar question Luis used to ask me.
Now, you may be one of the millions of people working remotely or working for multiple companies or working for multiple managers, or you’re a ghost team member who contributes but isn’t present and doesn’t get the benefit of the team energy. Whatever! But, here’s the deal, you still need to figure out how to make more money, to get better projects…to get noticed AND to be ENGAGED and TURNED ON if you want real job satisfaction! Otherwise, you’re going to end up wanting to be fired up just like I wanted to.
Hack 2 – Ask Your Boss Questions in a Casual Way
If you wish your manager was more engaging with you, here are three awesome hacks [there are more here] to help you engage with them and fire up your relationship.
- Casually, find out what your manager is supposed to be doing.
- Casually, find out exactly what results they’re responsible for.
- Casually, find out how they are going about achieving those results.
Again, they may not be an engaging manager but DO NOT let that stop you. Remember, on the flip side, a good manager will find a way to include you in the team energy. If your manager just ain’t doing it for ya, give these hacks a go.
At this point, you may be saying, “how the hell am I going to do that?” Or you’re thinking “I already know what they are supposed to be doing,” blah, blah, blah. Just lighten up for a second. As The Manager Hacker, let me ask you “If your goal is to feel more fired up or connected or to create a more engaging environment or speed up the process of advancing your career, why not give these hacks a shot?” Let me know if you have some better ideas in the comments below. 🙂
Hack 3 – Ask Engaging Questions
Listen, it’s simple…talk to your manager more and ask them more engaging questions instead of the same old boring production questions. Luis used to tell me, “When you ask boring questions, you’ll get, boring answers. When you ask exciting and engaging questions, you’ll get exciting and engaging answers.” I was like duh!!
Well, just so that you know, I started asking my people more engaging questions and added some excitement in my voice, and guess what magically happened? Yes, you got it! The more engaging questions I asked the more fired up they got. You can do the same thing with your boss and co-workers if you’re interested that is. And let me be clear, the questions I asked were not like “Are you guys fired up today?”
So anyway, one day, I decided to tell them about Luis and gave them permission to ask me more questions about me and my life and my business plans. They got plugged into the bigger picture and became just as fired up as I was. Guys, engagement is the key.
My Lifelong Learning Conclusion
Engaging with your people first and they will engage with you.