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Issue #54: Shaping perception


James Costa

June 5 · Issue #54 · View online

A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the complex relationship managers and employees have. While managers try to be more personable (since 50% of people leave jobs due to bad managers) to shape culture, a negative consequence is their not being taken seriously. The perception an employee has of their manager has a significant impact on how they treat them and adapt to needs. As managers model behavior and culture for their teams, the balance between friendly and professional is easily blurred.
This becomes more difficult when managers have responsibilities not often seen publicly. This unspoken friction between producers and managers can display itself through a sense of apathy and lack of urgency from employees or passive aggressive comments. Sigmund Freud suggested jokes serve two purposes: aggression, or to expose desire. Jokes may be used as a way to express frustration and serve as a unconscious cue to others that a level of respect has changed.
Employees have high expectations for managers (some of which may come from previous experiences), and being conscious of how your words and actions are perceived is important. If you’re constantly going from trying to be an employee’s best friend to communicating an issue with them, one will downplay the other. Being conscious about what you share and what it says about you helps. This subtle detachment allows employees to have a more consistent experience with managers, balancing authenticity with authority. (Kinda makes you wonder whether that crappy teacher you had in high school was actually trying to protect their authority.)
Though it might seem that I’m making the problem out to be on employees, I believe the blame lies with managers. While they may have different leadership styles, managing the perception their teams have of them is crucial. Managers who effectively communicate their value and pitch in to help whenever they can have teams who do the same.
Early on, we strived for a fairly flat structure to our team. While trying to avoid the speed bumps that hierarchies can create, I traded the title of “boss” for building relationships. What I didn’t realize is that you can do both. I still grapple with the ability to balance life with communicating my role, and I’m reminded that crafting a culture takes work.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing it. Whether you forward this to a friend, post on Twitter, or send me a bag of sour Skittles, it would mean the world.

The Dark Side of High Employee Engagement
The 9 questions that uncover the most surprising insights from employees
The benefits and challenges of running a slow-growing business
“Leaders who win the respect of others are the ones who deliver more than they promise, not the ones who promise more than they can deliver.”
― Mark A. Clement
I made $100 in the last week and oh man I think I’m addicted. 🤑
In other news, I just finished cutting tracks for Vita Chambers’ performance at Indy Pride. The thought of thousands of people dancing along with her to something I had a small part in is pretty unreal. 🤘 🏳️‍🌈
As always, if you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email!
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