Friday

Leave Alone Slap

This is the first of the people management posts I promised in the blog's Purpose Statement. When I was in banking in the 80's all of us in the management team were required to go through Ken Blanchard's One Minute Manager training. I've long forgotten most of what we spent days learning (the training course is not one minute long), but I do remember Blanchard's description of certain nightmare managers. The one that has stuck with me the longest was called "Leave Alone Slap" (LAS).

LAS managers are the guys who, when things are going well, say nothing. No congratulations, no encouragement, no "attaboys", nothing. You have no idea whether the boss is happy, sad, or insane...until something goes wrong or the boss feels it's time for some new "motivation", and then the boss jumps on you with both feet. Suddenly you're the worst salesman in history, and not only a bad insurance agent but a bad person as well. That's the kind of boss I had in the church insurance agency I worked for. A classic LAS.

I can remember landing a big deal and upon returning to the office with the checks in hand, told the boss about the deal. His response: "That's what you're supposed to do" and he walked off. Real motivating. He doesn't know how close he came to having those checks surgically removed.

I can remember more than once finishing up the year with goals made, trips won, etc., and being called into his office on the first business day of the new year and blasted for some perceived slight. He thought that's how you motivated employees to perform - terror and bullying. In fact, all he did was engender eternal hatred from me and from others treated the same way. Almost to a person his employees hated him, and if he knew it, he didn't care. He was Mr. Christian away from the office and the boss from hell when there.

When friends who had previously worked for him heard I was accepting the job there they warned me not to take the position, and that the boss wasn't what he appeared to be outside of the office. They were more correct than I could have imagined. Surely nobody could be that different in his personal and business life. To paraphrase Barack Obama, yes they can.

Advice to those of you who manage people, whether in business, a church, or anywhere else. Let them know how they're doing. Be encouraging every chance you get. As Blanchard put it, try to catch them doing something right. Sitting in the weeds during the good times and leaping out to terrorize and bully them when things get rough (or just for the fun of it as I suspect my boss did) is not the way people are to be treated if you really want them to perform for you.

And please, if you choose to continue as a Leave Alone Slap, don't call yourself a Christian while you do it.

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