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What We Learn from our Parents

At one company for which I worked, one location saw a dramatic improvement in customer service scores, particularly from one department. I wanted to know how they did it, so I went there and met with the location head. He said it was all due to the department manager, so I talked with her.

She told me how she coached some staff and hired others who were more skilled at customer service. Her answers not only all made sense, but demonstrated a firm grasp on the principles of management. She was a new manager and fairly unexperienced, so I asked where she learned how to me a manager. Her answer "I don't know".

Was I dealing with a management savant? She just knew all the right things to do, like the child who sits down at the piano for the first time and plays Bach flawlessly? No - as we talked more, it was clear that she had learned these things from her parents, not by lecturing, but by how they worked and how they set the expectations for their children.

Everyone starts every job with preconceived ideas from our lives and our experiences. This is why you want to build relationships with your employees - to learn about these experiences and ideas. You can understand why they do certain things or why they think certain thoughts. You won't be a mindreader or an amateur psychologist.

In the example I started with, she had a great foundation and I could then work with her to build on it. In some cases, people have a bad habits that need to be addressed.

As a manager, don't only think about what was done, but try to understand why it was done.

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