Guarantee that your help pays dividends

Q. I'm noticing lately that my employees show little gratitude for what I do for them. I'm a generous manager and try to have a personal relationship with my staff. The more I do, however, the less I am tending to get back. How do I figure out how to balance what I give and what I get from my staff?

A. You'll maintain a better balance between what you give and what you get if you are less generous and expect your staff to put money in your account before you start graciously paying dividends.

Many managers believe that the way they treat employees is directly related to the way employees will treat them, but this is dead wrong. The way employees will treat you is directly related to the way they treat everyone else and who they were before they met you.

An excellent interview question to ask before hiring an individual is to ask if she or he ever had mentors or teachers who went out of their way to help them and find out how this person responded. People who are grateful tend to attract mentors. People who are unappreciative often don't recognize support even if it saves their career.

Right now you are being automatically generous without evaluating who you are helping. Instead, look at each member of your team to assess each person's attitude of gratitude. If you end up going above and beyond for staff members who are entitled individuals, you might as well just throw money out your office windows.

There are people both in and out of the workplace who are black holes of expectation. You can double their salaries, promote them regularly and give them plum assignments, and they'll still be unhappy. They will also, at the earliest opportunity, throw you under the bus and leave you hanging without the slightest remorse.

There are other people who will respect and pay back every kindness you show them and every ounce of support you offer. They'll still be sending thank you cards 30 years later.

You have every right to sit back and observe as each member of your staff shows whether they possess an attitude of gratitude. When a staff member goes above and beyond for you, feel free to return the favor. If a staff member only does the minimum, then return that favor as well.

If you want a career where you have a long-term network of people who look out for you, you'll need to redefine yourself as not generous but strategic. Generosity without discernment is a liability and not a professional asset.

The last word(s)

Q. I have a coworker who rambles badly. He goes on and on and wastes a lot of my time. Is there a way to get him to arrive at his point?

A. Yes, when you're dealing with someone who doesn't seem to have a caboose on his train of thought just repeat back a short summary of what he has said and ask him to tell you what he needs.

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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