In the last edition, I mentioned some points taught by Betsy Rigby, Director of Development with Partners HealthCare at the New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy annual conference in Rhode Island last month. One was the two managment theories, ingloriously named, Theory X and Theory Y. Along with of these, she mentioned the role assumptions play in management.

As managers, we really want our people to succeed. So we implicitly expect:

“success” = “what it took to get us where we are”

That assumption helps shape the systems we create, the actions we reward, and the attitude we show to our employees.

What if your basic assumption was that to be successful, you need to work at least a 60-hour work week. Preferably 80 hours, especially with some time on Saturday.

As a good manager, wanting your employees to succeed, you’d assign work expectations to meet those assumptions.

But your employees may have a different view of success. For them, a fulfilling, incredibly productive 40-hour week may be “success” because it allows for time with family and friends.

Can you see the friction? You think you’re being generous by bringing pizza to the office at 6 p.m. but they see you as being a miserable slave driver.

The toughest part is that, for you, 60-hour work weeks did bring success.

One of the most important things we can learn is that there are many paths to excellent results. As leaders, we are responsible for the results. So we need to make sure that those results are crystal clear and well defined. Goals really need to be measure on results, not the way those results are achieved. Steven Covey calls these “win-win agreements.”

But if we hired well, we can give our employees some room in getting to those results.

But why not schedule 30 minutes or an hour this week to check in with your success assumptions and whether they are positively or negatively impact your leadership?

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