One of the things I really value about CubeSpace is the openness of communication, especially between the staff and myself. For instance, I really like that people who work at CubeSpace are willing to tell me, their boss, that my ideas are bad (when they are).
I was thinking about that openness this morning as I was thinking, and realized that there were several staff members here at CubeSpace who might regard this as not necessarily a good sign. They might well see it as the forerunner of a “David Brainstorm” which requires them to talk me out of a half-baked idea. And I love the fact that:
- they will talk me out of a half-baked idea, rather than simply saying “good idea” and then the project falls apart because it in fact wasn’t a good idea.
- they are comfortable teasing me about the fact that many of my ideas are “creative” (read: terrible).
How does one create this atmosphere? I don’t know entirely, though some elements that I believe are necessary include:
- The knowledge that I will not hold it against them if they tease me, or even more, if they disagree with me. In fact, they know that I want them to disagree with me, and push my thinking into areas I may not have considered.
- There is a back and forth teasing (playful…not mean) in the office. Partly this is just a function of Eva and I working together, and it is one of our styles of interaction, but partly it is also a dedicated effort to keep the atmosphere informal, fun and “real” (for want of a better word). Eva and I bring almost all of ourselves into the workplace, which encourages our employees to do the same.
- I’m very clear in communicating my expectations…I tell people when they do a good job, and let them know when I wish they might do something differently the next time. When I’m unsure about something, I say so. When I react to something but I’m not sure why I’m reacting that way, I say how I’m reacting, and that I don’t know why, yet.
- I say this, and I mean it: it’s okay to make mistakes. Not the same mistake repeatedly, and not to deliberately do something wrong, but to make a wrong decision is okay. And I admit when I make mistakes (I have frequent opportunities to do this).
- People know that we are not capricious. That I am not perfect as a boss, but that I try, and that I try to do right by people who work for me. I may not always succeed, but the people who work for me know that I try, and therefore give me the benefit of the doubt (just as I give them the benefit of the doubt regarding their motives).
So these are my thoughts for the morning. I’m delighted I have the staff I have, because they make me a better manager.