Building great managers and future leaders of a growing service business is all about teaching people to create and celebrate progress, to find the smart paths through alienation, and make it simpler for the next guy. Think about it – how would you define the performance of a manager that guides their team to accomplish company goals, helps them be better people to work with, and actively improves the business’ processes?

To help someone do this, we need to teach them some new things to do, and we also need them to stop doing other things. A manager focused on demerits, without the balance of merits is one such item. When I hear the word “demerit”, I immediately picture an ultra rigid boarding school full of fearful students. Its the kind of command and control environment that may play out well in a war, but not so well in a service business. Maybe this type of management works when its a crime to go AWOL or to desert your position, but the notion of a scowling instructor or manager holding power just doesn’t sound safe for a business. Nor for most any other type of on-going relationship.

Of course accountability matters – its the bedrock of performance. Thats why accountability sits on the trusted, qualified manager’s plate. They own performance goals. The blame game and finger pointing is counter-productive to an advancing manager. Rather, they are willing to become a part of the problem and gain a seat at the table to solve it. They bring their full arsenal of tools, effort, and influence to their teammates’ challenges and dig deep to diagnose and substantiate notions. They get dirt under their nails. Providing direction using unsubstantiated notions is a slippery slope towards finger pointing. When those directions crash, weak managers blame the voiceless. 

I have noticed that when people “don’t get it” until a lot of time has passed or until the results are undeniable, its really not that they don’t get it, its that they avoid getting it. “I can see it now” is common in these situations. Spotting and addressing the attitude that “avoids comprehension”, will help a manager spend their time helping their team, rather than being frustrated by them.

Good Luck!