34: When to Relinquish Authority + Boss Says Team Lacks Manners

Episode 34: When to Relinquish Authority + Boss Says Team Lacks Manners (Summary)

There are times when leaders need to relinquish their authority. Do you know when they are? Plus, a BossHero writes in asking for help with her team’s bad manners. We’re doing all that and more now on Boss Better Now.

Links:
To learn more about Joe Mull, visit his website ​Joemull.com​.
To hear more from Joe Mull visit his YouTube channel​.
To learn how to invite Joe to speak at an event, visit ​Joemull.com/speaking​.
To check date availability or to get a quote for an event, email ​hello@joemull.com​.
To explore options for coaching from Alyssa Mullet, visit ​Joemull.com/coaching​.
For more information on the BossBetter Leadership Academy, visit Joemull.com/academy.
Email the show at bossbetternow@gmail.com.
To leave comments, ask questions, or to message us visit our Boss Better Now Podcast Facebook Page.
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Transcript – Episode 34: When to Relinquish Authority + Boss Says Team Lacks Manners

Joe:
There are times when leaders need to relinquish their authority. Do you know when they are? Plus, a BossHero writes in asking for help with her team’s bad manners. We’re doing all that and more now on Boss Better Now.

Alyssa:
You’re listening to Boss Better Now. Please welcome speaker, author, and devoted Oxford comma user, Joe Mull.

Joe:
(Joe laughing) True. Welcome once again, BossHeroes, to the show that aspires to be food for the boss’s soul. Leading people is among the most challenging workaround, but it can also be deeply rewarding. So, we are here to lift you up and try to help you succeed. Please welcome my co-host, professional coach extraordinaire, Alyssa, Mullett. Hello, my friend.

Alyssa:
I would like our listeners to know that in the intro that Joe wrote me citing that he is an Oxford comma user, there is then a comma and then his name.

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
Uh, I am a little intimidated because grammar police, it ain’t me. I do what I can with what I got, and I got books and the internet for the rest.

Joe:
Okay. All right. Does this mean that you aren’t aware of what we mean by ‘the Oxford comma’?

Alyssa:
I am… No, I’m not.

Joe:
Ok.

Alyssa:
I do know what is it that you speak of.

Joe:
Well, allow me to explain. Yes. Um, so for years we were taught in school that when you write a list of things, you do not put a comma after the second item in front of the conjunction, right? So, in our run sheet here, it would say, please welcome speaker, “comma”, author and devoted Oxford comma user “comma”, Joe Mull. There would be no comma after the second thing “author”.

Alyssa:
Okay. Okay.

Joe:
But that causes a problem in writing. So, consider this sentence: This book is dedicated to my parents, Lady Gaga and Barack Obama.

Alyssa:
Oh, are your parents Lady Gaga and Barack Obama?

Joe:
If we, if we do not use the Oxford comma, what we’re saying is this book is dedicated to my parents (comma) Lady Gaga and Barack Obama. It identifies my parents as Lady Gaga and Barack Obama.

Alyssa:
Ah! Ok.

Joe:
The Oxford comma, which says that needs to go after the second thing in the list before the conjunction… I’m totally nerding out on the grammar stuff, and people are turning off this podcast.

Alyssa:
Don’t! Don’t!

Joe:
It should be: This book is dedicated to my parents (comma) Lady Gaga (comma) and Barack Obama.

Alyssa:
Ok.

Joe:
And that means they’re not my parents. They’re three different per personages in my list.

Alyssa:
Okay.

Joe:
Thus, the need for the Oxford comma.

Alyssa:
I get it. I get it now. I thank you for that information and knowledge. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Joe:
I can give you like 17 examples of Oxford common usage. And I am embarrassed by that. I share it only because I don’t want anybody to think I’m cool.

Alyssa:
Okay. Well, good. Let’s keep us all humble. Speaking of humble…

Joe:
Go!

Alyssa:
I… You reminded me, great person, that you are, uh, that I brought this whole topic of…

Joe:
Yes!

Alyssa:
…relinquishing authority…

Joe:
Yes!

Alyssa:
…to the podcast. And then I had to figure out how I had done so and in what context because I was not ringing any bells. Because you know, I suffer from recency and it hadn’t happened in the last, you know, week. It didn’t happen to me. So, I went back, and I found.

Joe:
Just to give our listeners a picture of what Alyssa means is I regularly ask her to send me, like, what do you want to talk about in the podcast? What ideas or did you want to…? And so, she sends it to me in emails and I have this little file in my email for our podcast content. And then when I build the show agendas, I go out and I pull them out. So, I emailed Alyssa. I was like, ‘Hey, we’re going to use this thing that you brought that I think is a really cool idea. So, um, yeah, that’s what we’re going to do.’ And apparently, it had been a while.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
Sorry.

Alyssa:
Well, I looked at the email. It’s dated in April. So, listeners, forgive me. But, uh, so I want to give you some context, dear listener, as to where I was coming from in April, and then we’ll fast forward to what this topic now means to me today. It said ‘I had a zoom last night with a fellow coach and a dear friend, and she was relaying some of her current client work specifically with an older white male and leaders who are… And how they are struggling to navigate various, either required or self-directed, relinquishing of their authority in the workplace.’ And so… At the time, that whole situation was an outgrowth of what I would categorize in the systemic power structures that we are trying to challenge in some ways in our society. Right? Race, gender, and then we have on top of it, that corporate hierarchy. Right? So, we’re trying to, hopefully, make space for people that have not traditionally been in those roles of authority. And so, she’s a great coach and she’s done some dynamic work with, with that individual. But what it means to me today in trying to think about it is this whole thing, as leaders, as, you know… We can do our part, right, to try to attack and dismantle those systemic power structures. And we should be doing that. But what I want to focus on is how does that work specifically for you in your role in your current job, outside of those other things. Right? And so, there’s this whole terminology of the ‘power over’ (right?) versus ‘power with’. And Brene Brown does amazing work on the whole power over/power with, in her Dare to Lead book. But I’m currently reading her Gifts of Imperfection and I… Again, see pre or prior reference – I suffer from recency. So, I’m reading, yesterday, this section on building critical awareness, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this so overlaps with how we, as leaders, need to try to dismantle some of our own authority and put it in check.’ We have to build our awareness to our what can be frankly an addiction to power. It’s subtle. It creeps up over time, but I have absolutely felt this in my professional career. And it’s something that I struggle with and have to keep a rein on continually. So, she speaks about it as building critical awareness in this list form specific to social media and how you’re digesting it. But I’ll read those to you and then I want to try to think about it and reimagine it in a way that’s very specific to dismantling and relinquishing that authority that we try to really gravitate and hold onto in the workplace. Right? Number one is: Is what I’m seeing real? Do these images convey real or fantasy? So, how does that translate to dismantling our power in the workplace? Are you creating a real-life role modeling in your position of authority? Are you devising that in a way that is sustainable and not a fantasy for people to try to achieve? These are ways in which we can try to dismantle putting ourselves up onto that pedestal. I’m going to go forward with the two and the three, but I want to give you the opportunity to say, is this hitting any buttons for you? Are you like, what the heck is she still talking about? Is she going to make sense at some point? Or is it resonating with ya?

Joe:
No, these are big ideas and they’re absolutely related to, just as you said, in my role, in my job, day in and day out, where might I be allowing the power granted to me by the authority of my position to move me into some thinking, or decisions, or behavior that is flawed. I think that’s a really important thing for us to explore. Go ahead and finish your list and then let’s bring it back to that. ‘Cause I think that’s really where the sweet spot is for our listeners.

Alyssa:
Okay. So now, again, number two: Do these images reflect healthy, wholehearted living, or do they turn my life, my body, my family, and my relationships into objects and commodities? So that’s pretty straightforward in terms of what are you doing or not doing that is perpetuating this concept of ‘people are what they do for you and for this company. That their worth is wrapped up in their professional career. That you care specifically about the commodity rather than the relationship that you have with those individuals. And the third one is: Who benefits from my seeing these images and feeling bad about myself. And then she raised ‘Hint, this is always about money and or control.’ So…

Joe:
What are they selling? Yes.

Alyssa:
Right? So, what are we trying to, um, benefit or profit off of? Are we creating in ourselves, again, a critical awareness to the level of impact of control that we’re trying to have over people and the money that we’re seeking, the profits that we’re seeking at their expense?

Joe:
And so, just as a reminder to our listeners, this list that Alyssa just gave you were questions specifically around social media. And, but I…

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
I like what you’re doing in terms of saying let’s use these questions to then bring it back to what we have to question about ourselves and our own reality as leaders. And so, um, I think one of the big things that comes out of that list, Alyssa, that is really kind of tangible for folks who are listening is, are we constantly questioning? One of the ways that we have to relinquish authority is to not always instantly trust our first impressions and our initial judgments – of circumstances of people, of their motivations – because one of the things that we know about our brains is that our brain takes short cuts and fills in the gaps in ways that are inaccurate. There’s a ton of social science research that tells us this is the case. We don’t pause to ask ourselves, well, what would make a really good person act this way? Right? When we see someone doing a questionable thing, our first blush reaction is to make a character judgment. That is a… It’s something we’ve talked about here on this podcast before.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
It’s been demonstrated in behavioral economics and social science research that our judgments about people’s motivations are consistently, predictably wrong because we don’t always take the time to ask ourselves ‘what if there was a perfectly good reason for their actions or decisions?’. And so, this questioning that you’re kind of talking about it, it’s born of the same understanding of how our brains work. And it’s an application that we need to put into our daily lives as leaders, which is to question what I’m seeing; question my own judgments; question my assumptions. Am I close?

Alyssa:
Yes, yes, absolutely. Yeah. I, as you were speaking, I was like, oh, that reminds me of like check yourself before you wreck yourself, you know?

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
To be even more simpatico about it like that. We have to be building that in, not trusting all the time that ‘Yeah, my intentions are pure. So, therefore, what I am doing and, and, and seeing is pure.’.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
You know you got to keep your guard up even for yourself.

Joe:
Just to be able to start from the understanding that everything I think I think is perception first and perception is not always accurate. You know, and shifting gears a little bit, if it’s okay. I don’t want to pull you away from…this idea too quickly…

Alyssa:
No.

Joe:
…if you have more to say on it. But the idea of relinquishing authority, for me, when you brought it up initially, the first thing that I thought of is what I’ve heard to/referred to as the power dial. Right? In the interactions we have with the people who work with us, sometimes we turn up our power dial and we exert more authority. We, we direct, and we command, and we squeeze a little bit.

Alyssa:
uh-huh.

Joe:
Um, and I think that our instinct when we face resistance from employees is to turn up our power dial. We assert ourselves more strongly because of the authority granted to us in our position. I think it’s human nature that bosses expect people who work for them to do what they ask because they ask. Um, and when that doesn’t happen automatically, sometimes we exert more power and more pressure from that power. Uh, and I think that’s a trap that a lot of leaders

Alyssa:
Yep.

Joe:
fall into. Um, when someone fails to comply with directives or is acting in a manner we see as not collaborative, I think people, leaders especially, might feel disrespected.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
And so, they feel maybe their knowledge or their experience with their role, or their authority is threatened. And so, if they experienced insubordination, their instinct is to turn up their power dial. Um, but we know that actually makes us less effective. Um, we actually become more effective with people when we reduce our use of power. Um, and I think that in order to do that as a leader, it means elevating the employee in your mind and questioning what’s happening in that moment and saying, okay, um, in this moment, I want to remind myself that this employee does some things really well, that this, uh, my success as a leader and, and our team depends on them. Um, and there might be a perfectly good reason for them reacting in this way that has something to do with me. And so let me understand that. Let me explore that. I think this kind of self-talk can help reorient us as leaders to a style and approach that is more likely to elicit a better, more collaborative response from the employee. And so, I guess what I’m saying is, is in those moments, when you feel the urge to turn that power dial up a few clicks, experiment, try turning it down, turning it the other direction and see what happens.

Alyssa:
I love that power dial, um, perspective. Um, I absolutely have suffered from that. I, um, I think of it now more acutely with parenting, right? Um, because as you spoke about like I expect! Right? I expect that they will respect my authority so much that they will do what I want the very first time. Right? And ask no questions. Don’t question me.

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
Right? And so, in a professional sense, that’s where I think that where we’re saying turn down the power dial, I’m saying amplify that critical awareness at the same time.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
Right? Start asking those questions. Okay. Well, I know, I know I have good intentions, but that power is a whoo… She’s a great drug. Gets me high on myself that it can be a real struggle to turn that dial down and turn up the critical awareness. This constant battle that, um, we have to wage within ourselves as leaders to continue to keep that power in check can sometimes, I think also, get fatigued or we think that it’s going to be fatigued if we try to build too much consensus. You know?

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
If we’re going out to our employees, right. And we’re, we’re all the time asking instead of directing, then we feel like, well, why do they have me here for.

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
Right. And so,

Joe:
Or others perceive us then as wishy-washy and lacking confidence in the leadership role. And we spend too much time trying to build bridges and make people happy than truly leading and directing when circumstances call for it.

Alyssa:
Yes. Yes. So, there’s this balance of unnamed sugar bits out here.

Joe:
Technical term.

Alyssa:
I just censored myself.

Joe:
It’s a highly technical term.

Alyssa:
That is on one hand, exactly what I at least have in my brain, um, that the leader is supposed to look and feel like, right. I’m supposed to command this authority. I’m supposed to be the person that people come to and ask. And if they’re not asking, then there’s something wrong, right. Versus wanting to be the leader who listens to this podcast, who empowers their people, who gives a great amount of autonomy and respect, and then doesn’t want to be that person that nobody needs and kind of works themselves out of the piece of the pie that they have really worked really freaking hard for all those years to get to.

Joe:
I think the takeaway here is the need for leaders to develop situational awareness. And if we… And to apply it literally every day. If vulnerability is a continuum…

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
and power is a continuum, each situation, we have to kind of take that moment to set the dials accordingly to say, okay, in this circumstance, what is real? What, what might be the truth? What could be happening here that I don’t know? Right? What don’t I know? And let me… let me figure out how vulnerable do I need to be, how much power do I need to assert? Cause in some of those circumstances, this, you may… It may be necessary to cut right to, ‘This is what is happening. This is how we’re doing it. We got to go do it now.’ Right?

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
In times of crisis, or when people don’t necessarily know what you want from them, or they don’t have the information they need to be successful, we have to turn up the power dial a little bit and lead. But in other circumstances where maybe we’re dealing more with people’s emotions, or their fears, or uncertainties, or information sharing and gathering, we need to dial the power dial – dial the power dial – back a little bit and show up as that more vulnerable leader who doesn’t feel that that sort of draw to assert power and to say, ‘Well, I, I know what we need to do here.’ Because maybe you don’t.

Alyssa:
Yeah. I think too, um, we’ve spoken about this in prior episodes about generationally, um, it’s easier for some folks to do that and build that awareness than it is for others. Um, and I think it speaks to, not just, you know, oh, because you know, people are set in their ways. It’s because as you, you know, build your professional resume and you put in the blood, sweat and the tears, you know what it took for you to get there. And so, to relinquish that in any capacity feels like a deep threat. And so, building some compassion for yourself around the fact that, hey, yeah, I did work really hard to get here. And if it all goes away tomorrow because they deem somebody else is a better fit or my job’s not needed anymore, how am I going to lead? How do I want to show up on my last day?

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
Right? With these folks that I get to lead.

Joe:
What’s my agenda?

Alyssa:
Yeah!

Joe:
And does that agenda align with my values? Because if it does, then how you lead on your last day is how you lead on your first. Or at least if those values evolved and you tweaked your leadership style, then how you lead on your last day is still not…it’s not about you. It’s still about them. The people you put at the center of your role as an… the lead… as a leader.

Alyssa:
Absolutely.

Joe:
That’s a … that’s a perfect little bow on this chat. Thank you for bringing this topic to us. Um, big, heavy ideas in there. And we’d love to hear from you, BossHeroes. What do you think? What are your reactions to what you heard? What are your questions and ideas about this topic or others for future episodes? We’d love to hear from you at bossbetternow@gmail.com. Just shoot us an email. Or if you’re watching this episode online, just pop a note in the comments box below. We see all of those.

Joe:
And that brings us, of course, to the Camaraderie Question of the Week. With that catchy little ditty, you’ve grown to know and love, bosses build camaraderie on teams by making it easier for people to find things in common with each other. That’s why every week we give you a question you can use in meetings to facilitate connection and build camaraderie. And our Camaraderie Question this Week, my friend: What is the farthest you’ve ever been from home?

Alyssa:
Is this a medic-… Oh my God. The word just went right out of my brain hole.

Joe:
A metaphorical?

Alyssa:
Yes, Lord. Thank you. Oy! It’s been so long since I’ve been around other like adult humans. It’s just my second day with my kid out of the house the entire day. I don’t know how to work. My brain… is… It’s… The silence is like what’s room outside of my thoughts that can be spoken. Oh, my goodness. Um, if we’re not thinking that this is a metaphorical question, then, uh, Rome, Italy.

Joe:
Okay. Was that the wedding trip?

Alyssa:
Where I got married.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That is the farthest I have traveled. In my mind, I have been around the world several times.

Joe:
‘In my mind.’ I love it.

Alyssa:
The depths of the oceans. I’ve flown everywhere.

Joe:
You’ve been to space.

Alyssa:
But oh… I was going to say, I’m sure that your yours would include space somehow.

Joe:
What’s funny is that, is that you bring up whether are we talking physical distance or metaphorical. And so, the first thing I had to do when asking this question was actually make sure I got, is it farther or further? Cause they’re different. And so, for

Alyssa:
Oh, Lord.

Joe:
Here’s a little pro tip for our listeners. If we talked about the grammar stuff before,

Alyssa:
Ugh!

Joe:
We’re just dropping the grammar knowledge today.

Alyssa:
Okay, okay.

Joe:
‘Farther’ is physical distance ‘further’ is symbolic distance. That’s the general rule for it. So, if, if the question I believe I gave it to you as what is the farthest you’ve ever been from home?

Alyssa:
Yes.

Joe:
‘Farthest’ means physical distance.

Alyssa:
Okay.

Joe:
If it had been a metaphoric or symbolic question, it would have been, what is the furthest…

Alyssa:
Ohhhh.

Joe:
…your chakras and spirit have ever been from your…

Alyssa:
Look at this. Learning something. Two things, two whole things I’ve learned about words and stuff.

Joe:
There you go!

Alyssa:
Right on this podcast!

Joe:
Nerding out today. Uh, the farthest I’ve ever been from home, I may have two answers. I always have two answers to these questions. Uh, my first initial answer was Frankfurt, Germany. Um, but I was born there. I’ve not been there as an adult. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany. My father was in the U.S. Army, he was stationed over there. My mom was with him, so I was born in Frankfurt, Germany.

Alyssa:
Oh my gosh.

Joe:
And then they flew back to the states when I was nine months old. And so that was my first reaction to this question. And then I had that thought where I was like, but that’s not the furthest I’ve ever been from home because for a time Frankfurt, Germany was home.

Alyssa:
Hmmm.

Joe:
But then I was coming to my new home. And so, I kind of decided to throw that out. Um, and so my actual answer to this question is Alaska.

Alyssa:
Okay.

Joe:
I had, um, uh, a lovely journey to Alaska. I believe it was three years ago now. Um, there was an organization out there who asked me to speak at their conference. Um, and it was a really cool experience. They reached out and they said, we’d love to have you speak at our conference. Uh, we can’t afford your full fee. Uh, but what we can do is give you two extra nights at the resort and cover your wife’s travel. So, what do you say? And I was like ‘Done.’ I would love to go to Alaska. And we had an amazing time. Um, and it was, you know, 17 hours of travel across three flights from Pittsburgh.

Alyssa:
Ugh!

Joe:
Um, but I can’t wait to go back. I would love to go back. It’s absolutely…it is so beautiful that it is an emotional experience.

Alyssa:
Ah.

Joe:
You get to a place like that and, and you go, man, people need to see this cause it is just incredible. Um, and then here’s a funny coda on the story is, um, I had an, uh, speaking gig right after that in Savannah, Georgia. And if you want to identify two points in the United States that are about as far as part as possible and still be considered both in the United States, Anchorage, Alaska to Savannah, Georgia is pretty close. That was like 21 hours of travel going the other way, but we had a great time. And um, if you ever get a chance to go to Alaska, please do it.

Alyssa:
That’s so cool. Awesome. Thanks for that.

Joe:
And that is the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

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Joe:
All right, Alyssa, we are going to finish this last segment here of our podcast today with Mail Time.

Joe:
Such a catchy little ditty.

Alyssa:
It is.

Joe:
We have an email from a listener. This is an email that we got from Jackie to our bossbetternow@gmail.com account. And she says, ‘Hi, Joe and Alyssa. I hope you can help me. I was raised in rural Ohio and part of a generation that believed in really “earning” a living. I struggle with the lack of values that were embedded in my work ethic at an early age, like professionalism, grammar, etiquette. What advice do you have for someone that supervises a staff that sounds more ghetto than professional and has little sense of manners and propriety?” Signed Jackie. There’s a lot going on in this email, Alyssa.

Alyssa:
Woah.

Joe:
Um, and I want to start by acknowledging, um, where I think Jackie is coming from.

Alyssa:
Okay.

Joe:
Which is a concern for quality. A belief that it’s her job to create an environment in the workplace that is as high in quality and experience for customers as possible. Um, I’m operating under that. That is the assumption that that’s what she’s bringing to the table. Um, where would you like to start to give Jackie the help she’s looking for?

Alyssa:
Well, so, Jackie, I really identify with what you’re talking about in terms of how you grew up –  because I grew up that way too. Very conservative, small-town mentality. I mean, I graduated with a class of 36 kids.

Joe:
That’s tiny.

Alyssa:
I went, you know, me being in Pittsburgh is like the big city, uh, you know, me having a title of any kind, you know, she’s the business girl, she’s the businesswoman. Um, so I get it. I get what you’re saying. I do have a little bit of a reaction though, to that whole ‘ghetto’ term that brings up some other things… I’ll leave that where it is. But I think that when I think about how I want to make sure you’re looking at the situation, Jackie, is number one, we talked about in the first segment about “the values lens”, right? About is it part of your values, right? And I think that this is something that we need to examine in this situation is, are the words… Is the language and how it’s spoken your reaction to it based upon your values of how you were raised and now how you see yourself as a professional and what is professional? And so, you are now more acutely aware of what it means to be professional and what is deemed professional. So, it strikes you in a deeper way, and it means more to you than it might mean to anyone else, including your customer.

Joe:
That’s dangerous, isn’t it?

Alyssa:
It is.

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Alyssa:
So be aware of your own “values lens” is my first, uh, consideration. My second one…

Joe:
Let me…

Alyssa:
Okay.

Joe:
Can I jump on that just for a quick second, Alyssa?

Alyssa:
Go for it. Yeah-yeah.

Joe:
Cause when you go on a second thing, I don’t want to lose this first thing. Because if, if this is the language that we use to talk about this with our team, they will experience it as a judgment, as a character defect. Right?

Alyssa:
Yup.

Joe:
If you assert that my generation really believed in earning a living, what you’re saying is that mine doesn’t. And if you say my work ethic includes values like professionalism and etiquette, what we’re saying is theirs doesn’t. And it becomes this sort of black and white, I have it/you don’t, discussion of what’s happening. And these words are descriptors and they’re very subjective. And I think that, from a leadership role, when the time comes to give feedback and ask people to change, that’s going to bring so much baggage into the room that it’s going to get in your way into what you’re really going for here. So, before I keep going on that point and what, and what I think Jackie needs to do to get where she wants to go, let me give this back to you, Alyssa. Cause I interrupted you. Cause you had a second point.

Alyssa:
No, that that’s beautiful. I think you just reminded me though of something and I will put it to my other second point. Judgment. It does invoke judgment whenever we do that.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
And so, the counter to that is curiosity, right? Judgment. So, we need to get curious. And what I would get curious about, Jackie, is, is it affecting your customer service?

Joe:
uh-huh.

Alyssa:
Is… So, be able to… Trying to be able to discern is it your “values lens”, you know, is this a real problem? Right? Is this a real issue that’s outside of you? So, let’s start talking about what the data is in terms of the metrics that are used for those positions. Is it a customer-facing position? Is it affecting, you know, how your customers are experiencing your team? Start to think and get curious about that. Back to you, Joe.

Joe:
You went right where I wanted to go. Which was: Is what is happening doing harm? Or is it just different? Because there are differences across generations in how people talk, react, interact, et cetera. And before we judge it as a problem or judge it as less than we have to run it through that same lens that you just brought up, Alyssa, which is, uh, is it a problem? Is it doing harm? Um, because this exact question could come from a team that really just has people from a lot of different walks of life, whose cultures, and experiences and, and, um, formative years result in them showing up in some different ways that aren’t doing harm. And what we would have to do for this particular leader is look inward and say, why is this bothering me? And how can I adapt? Because it’s not doing harm. How can I become more, more tolerant, and more accepting? Or this exact email could come from someone where the staff behavior is a train wreck and people are delivering out horrible customer service. And so, in that case, that question about is this doing harm is a great starting point. And then what has to happen next? I think is moving away from subjective descriptors, like ‘professionalism’ and ‘work ethic’ to specific behaviors. What are people saying and doing that as a problem? Are they rolling their eyes at customers? Are they talking about customers in the hallways and in earshot of other people? Um, are they slamming the phone down when they get a difficult phone call? Those aren’t subjective adjectives; those are specific things we can observe. And so, if there are harmful behaviors happening where you work, Jackie, my advice would be to sit down and write them out. Write down every behavior that is troubling you. And then go back through that list and cross out the ones that might be squishy. Might be a little bit subjective. Pick the two or three things that you think are the most clear, objective, problematic things that need to be solved. And then use that language. Talk about them. Don’t talk about professionalism. Talk about, uh, affect when customers walk into the office – what’s happening on my face, in the volume of my voice, if there are specific turns of phrase that are a problem that your staff use. Um, then name those. Don’t just talk about ‘professionalism’ as a generic thing. Break it down into these smaller, bite-sized, behavioral standards that you can then measure people against.

Alyssa:
Beautiful, tactical, strategic advice. Excellent. Thank you!

Joe:
I’ve got one more thing. And it’s actually where you said you were going to leave the word ‘ghetto’ where it’s at. I’m not.

Alyssa:
Ok. Thank you. Alright.

Joe:
So, I’m just going to give Jackie a friendly piece of advice. Um, that word brings a lot of baggage into the room too. Um, it’s a, it’s a pejorative term with complex connotations around poverty, around race, around education, around socioeconomic status. As a leader, I would avoid using that word for those reasons. Um, you’ve got a lot here that you’re trying to achieve, Jackie. I think you’re trying to do it for the right reasons. Let’s not use language that can get in the way of that. Um, so I would, I would eliminate that word from your vernacular in the workplace. I think that might be helpful. Um, that’s our show this week, BossHeroes. As always, we’d love to hear from you, uh, love to hear your responses to Jackie’s concern and, and if you disagree with our advice, well, then you can drop a comment in the box below the video if you’re watching us on video or you can shoot us an email to bossbetternow@gmail.com. Um, these are subjects that I think we will continue to come back to. And I want to leave you today with one interesting little nugget. Did you know that you can say this: Hey Alexa, play ‘Boss Better Now with Joe Mull’ and she will. It’s one more way you can listen to us wherever you are any time. And, by the way, I’m sorry if I lit up any of your devices where you’re at. We try not to say ‘the A word’ too often for that very reason. In the meantime, take care of BossHeroes, and thank you for all that you do to care for so many.

Alyssa:
This show is sponsored by Joe Mull and Associates. Remember, commitment comes from better bosses. Visit JoeMull.com today.

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