Managers: Are Your Blindspots Holding You Back?

by Frank Swiatek

In my coaching experience, I have discovered that managerial blindspots is one of those factors which really hampers the growth of a manager…and often causes them to derail in their careers.

Blindspots are attitudes, practices, and behaviors that managers are unaware of that have a negative outcome on their performance.

Here’s an analogy.  Did you ever get into your car and not realize the parking brake was on?  The car has great potential.  It has the systems, tires, gas and oil to perform at a peak level.  However, as long as the parking brake is on the car performs erratically.  There is a barrier or obstacle limiting the performance of the automobile.  Blindspots are like that. They hold us back.  They limit us.  They result in sub-par performance.

So, what are examples of blindspots that hold managers back?

  • Defensiveness – they get defensive when someone disagrees with them or offers a different point of view
  • Poor listening skills – they interrupt and finish sentences for people
  • Indecision – they over-rely on consensus and belabor decisions
  • Procrastination – they put off actions that they are uncomfortable with
  • Self-importance – they have an “all-about-me” mentality
  • Lack of focus – they get distracted easily
  • Disrespect – they make comments to others which are rude and disrespectful
  • Wrong focus – they focus on things that don’t matter

There are many others as well.  The point is that they need to be aware that these specific behaviors are taking place and that they are having a negative impact on their performance, and ultimately having a negative impact on their results.

So, how does a manager go about discovering his or her blindspots?

  1. I recommend is to do an inventory of poor experiences.  What is occurring when you are not at their best?  What patterns do you see in your behavior which tends to produce negative results?  This takes introspection and the ability to level with yourself.
  2. Seek feedback from others, and that includes boss, peers, and employees.  A good technique is to use the performance evaluation of your employees as a way to get feedback on your performance.  You simply might ask a question like, “Is there anyway, that if I change my behavior, I can help you do a better job?” You could find some habits or idiosyncrasies that negatively impact others.  And, after all, isn’t it your role to help employees to do a better job.
  3. Observe others in your organization.  How do they handle difficult situations?  How do they respond to challenges?  Other people’s experiences (sometimes referred to as “OPE’s) can be a fertile ground for uncovering your blindspots.
  4. Self-assessment is a terrific strategy for uncovering blindspots. Attending seminars, reading books (like “Managers, can you hear me now?”), and using self-assessment instruments (like the DISC Style assessments) are all proven ways to identify those areas that are holding you back from peak performance.

One more thought.  Once you identify some blindspots, work on improving only three at a time.  My experience as a coach tells me that most managers can work on three self-improvement areas at a time without being overwhelmed, considering their daily responsibilities.

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