The Erin Edit

Topics in People Management

The Blind Side

March 1, 2023

All managers have blind spots: in the way you operate and in the people on your team. I haven't met a single manager including myself who didn't have a blind spot somewhere.That's okay.However, once you are made aware of that blind spot (it's often something getting in the way of others), you need to develop sophistication to prevent it from happening again. Let's break down the 2 different types of blind spots.

Blind Spot 1 - The Way You Operate
When I work with managers, the tension or conflict they are causing in the way they operate is usually tied to something they are great at. For example, if a manager is competitive, that means they are an athlete in business. They will run fast and hard at a finish line put in front of them. That strength can also mean they move too quickly, get impatient, and can compete directly with their team making the glory all about themselves.One of the best ways to get ahead of your individual blind spots is to take the CliftonStrengths Assessment. It's $60, but it spells out your strengths AND the blind spots associated with those strengths. Every manager I work with takes this assessment at the start of our relationship.

CliftonStrengths 34

Learn what makes you unique and how to maximize your potential by taking this talent assessment and discovering all 34 of your CliftonStrengths themes.

(not an affiliate link - just an incredible development resource for you!)

If someone you work with brings up an area where you might not be operating the best, take time to ask questions. It's natural to want to defend yourself, but you need to override that instinct. Get to know the context that led to this feedback. The more data you have, the better. You likely didn't intend for this to happen, so you need to understand how your approach didn't mesh with that person or group of people. Management is all about the individualized approach, so what might work for one of your team members doesn't for another.

The more you know about your approach and the needs of your team, the better off you'll be at heading this off.

Blind Spot 2 - The People On Your Team

This is when you have someone on your team that shouldn't be there, but they are. They are there because they've always been there. You might feel like you owe them, you might have them there because you trust them, or you might have them there because you are rewarding loyalty over performance. Regardless, this blind spot is wreaking havoc on your team. This person is essentially "protected". If you have one of these people on your team, you may not hear anything negative about them, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. It just simply means that the rest of the team is too afraid to say anything to you and/or they know it won't make a difference.

This negative effective is compounded if that person has a team reporting to them.

So how do you know if you have a blind spot in a person?

Reevaluate your entire team as if you are a 3rd party (bonus, find a 3rd party to help you): 1) What is their performance - are they meeting or exceeding the expectations set for them? 2) Does their skillset/experience match what the business needs from them or has the business outpaced them? This doesn't necessarily mean you need to get rid of them, but you absolutely need to invest in a 3rd party to develop them in their particular function 3) Why do you want them on your team? If you can't point to anything meaningful outside your relationship, there's a good chance there's an issue.

I had an executive client who had a person blind spot. Despite me providing the company's feedback on this individual, the exec still held onto them. Two years later, the problem was still there, and it had evolved so much that this exec's future was now in jeopardy. Why did this exec hold onto someone so long despite the obvious negative consequences? They strongly rewarded loyalty at the expense of rewarding performance. In doing so, it held the whole company back and sent a message to the high-performers that loyalty mattered more than performance.

At the end of the day, your goal should be to continuously develop (Manager Material Trait) yourself. Doing so makes you a better manager for your team and sets an incredible example for them. A manager who lacks self-awareness (Manager Material Trait) is one who is headed down a path to having a disengaged team.

TL;DR: you will have blind spots - you just need to be proactive in finding them and be willing to address them urgently, effectively, and with humility.

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