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No, You're Not Needy

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/02/2016 Rena DeLevie

2016-02-22-1456119439-5198181-5578621089_3c23df2ff2_oAmericanCenterMumbai.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-22-1456119439-5198181-5578621089_3c23df2ff2_oAmericanCenterMumbai.jpg
My client was asked to meet her supervisor to discuss her performance. She was told she needed to "improve your communication skills." My client asked for guidance in what way did her communication come across now and how could it be better? The supervisor replied that she was "needy," and then told her she needed to "be introspective about this." My client was left wondering if in fact she was needy, and what she supposed to be introspective about?
I am continuously dumbfounded that fear-based managers think shutting down employees is going to improve anything. It's counter-productive. Fear-based management results in disengaged, resentful, low productivity employees. Companies lose good people all the time because of poor managers who drive once upbeat, excited associates out the door.
A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss.
You'd think after 30 years of living this and hearing about it, I'd be immune. But it still makes me crazy mad when I hear about people in power playing mind games with their direct reports. We have a responsibility as managers to use our power wisely by explaining clearly what we need from our direct reports. It benefits no one to be vague and demeaning. But since there are still more than a few fear-based managers out there, I will write this guide for recognizing their ineptitude and therefore taking care of ourselves in the process.
When we only focus on going to Human Resources or talking the managers boss, we forget about ourselves in the process. We get so outward focused that it often turns into a defensive argument, a manager/direct report battle, and that undermines what we really need for our career - in the moment and going forward. What is crucial, and often forgotten, is that we want to be able to say, "I handled this the best I could" and walk with our head held high. It's the long view and it helps our day to day enormously.
Recognizing the meaning behind each element in the vague, demeaning "feedback" will help you clarify quickly what's going on and free you from the insecurity of "what the?"
The foundation of what I'm about to share with you is this: When a fear-based manager becomes uncomfortable because she doesn't know what to say, she often turns the situation against her direct report.
Let's break down the above example by listing the tools the fear-based (fb) manager used:
The fb manager thinks that by taking you down, he appears in charge. Imagine the rooster strutting around the yard. Yeah, he's the boss, but doesn't he look silly jutting his head in and out like that? It's all an act of diversion, to keep us from noticing that he doesn't have much to offer. He's all fluff and feathers.
Throwing names at you is childish. Seriously, there are more creative ways to deal with discomfort than lashing out. But for the un-evolved manager, lashing out is all she knows. It keeps her from having to pay attention to the discomfort she feels at not being able to provide for you. You supposedly being lazy, uninvolved, demanding, or my personal favorite - needy - takes the spotlight off her crummy management skills and shines it on you. To be super specific about "needy" - when someone calls you needy, they're trying to make you feel bad so they don't have to. What they're actually saying is, "You want more than I'm able to give."
It's all on you now. You need to go into a quiet room and "look inward and be honest." About what, I don't know. But you have the assignment so your boss can feel she's taken action.
Wow, right? That's a doozy of insight into a troubled manager. I've had them, I was one!, and I bet you've had one also. The long view question is "Who do I want to be in this world? A person of [integrity/strength/compassion/intelligence/fill in your word] and what action in this scenario will lead me to being the person I want to be?
We have power when we manage our internal and external reactions. When we're attacked like in the example above, there is benefit in considering if some of what was said was valid. This is smart introspection and we can all learn more about ourselves from a good and bad boss. And then there comes a time when we realize we trigger our manager's weak spot unintentionally and it's the manager who has some evolving to do. It's our job to recognize which scenario is playing out each time.
So now you have the power to analyze "what the" is going on and then decide what steps to take. Have a heart to heart? Go to HR? Talk to the boss's boss? Find a new job? This is vital information to ensure you never feel like you didn't try hard enough to right a difficult situation. We are NOT talking about changing the boss's behavior. We're talking about how we change our thinking and behavior to ensure we're showing up fully as the person we want to be in this world. And then we can become the managers we've always wanted. Amen to that!

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