Webinar presenter Dr. Kimberly Miller answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Coaching and Developing Your Bench. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: What do you think of using motivational interviewing with managers and trainers and coaches, would you recommend learning some of those skills?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: A hundred percent and I appreciate whoever brought that up. Obviously, in an hour and fifteen-minute webinar, there are only so many things that I can talk about but yes. There’s a ton of websites and books on motivational interviewing and I would encourage all of you to look into that just like any tool, it’s not the best fix for everything and every person in every situation but I do support that. I think it’s a great tool and I appreciate who brought that up.
Audience Question: Do you recommend agencies or teams create a handbook that you described? Are you thinking like three-ring binders? Should it be a google doc that can live online and then be changed on the fly with links to other sources? How do you recommend that format be done?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Whatever works for your agency. I will admit I am old-school and I like paper totally but probably the best thing to do is put it in electronic form and then for the people who want to print it, they can print it but it’s way easier to modify something that lives in electronic format. It can be shared. Another thing just to think about with that, a lot of people especially people that are like the CEO level they may think like, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to write all these books?” Or “I can’t get all this done, this is way too much work.” Remember, most of you already have people in those seats doing those jobs. Get them to help you write it and if you all just pick lieutenants, if you have ten lieutenants in your agency, they can all help contribute to writing the book. This does not have to take months and months to do. Get people already doing the job to help collaborate and create those books and it can be done fairly quickly.
Audience Question: Do you think bosses can ever be friends with their employees or as one of our audience members asks; Is it possible to wear both hats, be friends outside of work and be the boss at work? Or is it just simply better to move the supervisor to a new group where they don’t necessarily have friends? What do you think about that?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: I really try to never live in the extreme that you can’t ever be friends with people you supervise, right? Because the reality is if you’ve been friends with someone for 10 years, you can’t actually cut it off but I will say that you have to be careful with that and I for sure think there have to be new boundaries. So I just gave the example of, “Hey I’m not going to go have pizza and bear with you every Friday. I’m like going to pop in occasionally.” But you know that’s always been sort of the line level peoples gig and I don’t want to modify that by being the supervisor and blurring the lines. I think you have to be careful. I mean, I’ve supervised people I was friends with, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t still friendly. It doesn’t mean I cut off all the things I used to do with them but I did it differently because I wouldn’t want if I’m supervising let’s say five people and I used to be one of the five on the team, and now let’s say I’ve even supervised the same five people for the next year, but then two of those people leave the shift and I get two brand new people I don’t know. Well now, those two new people are likely to say things like, “Oh we’re not the favorites, she’s not friends with us.” That’s the danger zone. If you have to be really careful when you have that power because that’s the perception. Now, you might not mean it to come across like that but I think you have to be careful. It’s all about perception. What’s favoritism? Because if you are hanging out with those people on the weekends, you probably have more influence over them and they have more influence over you. If you’re not hanging out with the other two employees, they’re not going to feel like they have as much influence over you or you care as much about them. I don’t know that you cannot make a modification. I think if once you become a supervisor, you have to set some kind of boundary and do something different because if you do everything the same, you’re going to end up in the dynamic of having a difficult conversation, you’re going to have the perception of favorites, etc. But I think that’s really up to everybody to navigate but realize that you have to set some boundary and you can’t do everything a hundred percent like you used to do it.
Audience Question: Do you think mentors should be assigned or should people be allowed to gravitate to the leaders or influencers who inspire them, what do you think?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: I’ve seen it happen different ways and I’ll tell you from my personal experience. It is better if there could be some kind of matching because I will tell you I was assigned somebody and not that we all can’t learn from the Darth Vader supervisor but I was assigned a Darth Vader supervisor and it was the worst six months of my life and I didn’t want to be with them. I didn’t want to learn from them.