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5 tips for using the Great Boss Building Block model

Knowing how to use tools is key to their (and your) success. Get them right, and they will help you achieve your objectives. Get them wrong, and you will not only fail, but you can achieve results far worse than when you began.

In a previous blog, we introduced you to the Great Boss Building Block™ model, something we developed to provide you with the right tools to deliver the right results.

To help you use this model and the 14 building block tools effectively, in this blog we share five key points to keep in mind. Think of them as your instructional manual for using these tools. Here they are:

1) Don’t wait for perfection

First, it’s important to note that you don’t have to be perfect at using a building block in order to start using it with your people. Keep in mind that nothing will ever be perfect; making progress on individual building blocks is what truly makes a difference.

"Done is better than perfect" - Sheryl Sandberg.

For example, if your focus is the Appreciation block because your people have said they don’t feel valued at work, you can take small steps to work toward completing this block before a formal program is put in place. You can start by doing some small acts of appreciation on your own. Maybe start each weekly team meeting with “Shout Outs,” thanking individual people for the great work they had done. You’ll be surprised how a small act of gratitude can have a huge impact.

2) Order doesn’t matter

Next, it’s important not to take the placings of the building blocks too literally. It’s not a model where you start at the bottom and work your way up, or go left to right. You need to set your own order and develop your great boss plan based on focus areas where you will make the biggest and quickest impact – remember, the enemy of progress is inertia.

For example, if after taking the boss assessment test you find that you need to focus on Listening and Compassion, start with these blocks. If your people have shared that what they need most from you is Coaching and Development, you should start there. Bottom line: Consider the building blocks needed for your current situation and create an order that delivers what you and your people need most.

3) Be flexible and fluid

As we all know, things are constantly changing. Whether it’s the workplace, your people, or your job, nothing seems to ever stand still for long. That’s why it’s important to continually revisit both your building blocks and your priorities, focusing on blocks that are most timely and relevant. Be flexible in your approach and open-minded to how and when you need to change your plan.

For example, let’s say you prioritize Feedback and Listening based on assessing your people’s needs, your own strengths, and learning opportunities. You start the work only to find out that the company is going through a huge reorganization, and you’re going to have to tell people that their jobs are changing or layoffs are happening. You may want to shift your focus to Compassion and Communication so that you feel comfortable handling these new responsibilities.

4) It takes practice

There are times when you put time and effort into a building block, and it feels like an uphill battle. You read the sections, you take the actions suggested, and …. you feel like you’re getting nowhere. You try it again and again, nowhere! Well, you’re not alone. When this has happened to me, here are three noteworthy lessons I keep in mind.The first lesson is that it takes time. You likely won’t start to see dependable, reliable change on day 1, or 10, or even longer. You need to keep putting in the time if you want change to happen. The next lesson is the old adage that “practice makes perfect.” And that’s because although some blocks may come more easily and naturally to you, others may not, requiring more time and more practice. The final lesson relates to Einstein’s quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the same results.”

For example, if you’re working on the Feedback block, but every time you give feedback you still don’t seem to get it right. Remember not to give up, but try a different approach. Talk to your people, get ideas from your peers, and find out what’s working and not working, then try it again.

5) Everyone is different

And finally, remember that everyone is different, and one approach may work with one person but not with another. Figure out what will work for them, and then adjust how you’ll change to meet their needs.

For example, one person on my team liked me to give feedback to them in a very direct way. “Just get to the point,” they’d say to me. While another person wanted me to build up to it, and give them time to prepare for what I was going to share with them. I needed to understand this first so that I could give them what they needed. 

We hope these five tips help you use the model and the building blocks in ways that help your people, business, and you be a great boss. If you’d like to read more on this, please read our book Bad Bosses Ruin Lives: The Building Blocks for Being a Great Boss.

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