Management Skills: Create Symbiosis

Clownfish
Finding REMO

That’s a picture of a cute little clownfish, we’ll call him Remo, swimming among sea anemone. Most fish would not be feeling too good right now, because those cool looking tentacles of the anemone are laced with stinging poison. Good thing Remo’s ancestors evolved a thin layer of mucus that protects him from the poison.

For the trouble of going through the painstaking process of evolution, the anemone does Remo a major favor by keeping predator fish away. Remo knows better than to let a favor go unreturned, so he eats little sea invertebrates and fertilizes the anemone helping it thrive. It’s a win-win, otherwise known in nature as a mutualistic symbiotic relationship.

Great employees, or Really Effective Members of the Organization (REMOs), are like the clownfish. These REMOs have developed a special set of skills that are extremely valuable to the organization, or the sea anemone. REMOs will continue swimming among their thriving companies for as long as the relationship continues to be mutually beneficial.

You may have heard this described elsewhere as the W.I.I.F.M, or the What’s In It For Me concept. Or maybe there are people at your company talking about what seems to be the hottest topic in business today – employee engagement.

Where does the manager fit into this relationship? Why thank you for asking, dear reader.

Effective managers create mutualistic symbiotic relationships between companies and employees. Here’s how you do it:

  • Step 1: Build a relationship with your team members. All relationships are built on trust, and you can’t get the goods out of Step 2 without nailing this first step.
  • Step 2: Determine what is important to your individual team members. Everyone is unique. Here are just a few of the things peopleare motivated by in the workplace:
    • Opportunity for advancement
    • Stability
    • Work/life balance or flexible scheduling
    • A boss that treats them like a person
    • Benefits
    • Money and the potential to make even more money
    • Legacy
    • A million other motivators… you get the drift
  • Step 3: Learn your company or business unit or department’s goals. These can be found in the mission/vision/values statements, on your company scorecard, or you can just ask your boss.
  • Step 4: Align the individual goals of your team member(s) with the goals of the organization. In other words, help the REMOs understand that they can eat all the little sea food they want under the protection of the company, as long as they help the company thrive and grow.

This brings us to a fundamental truth about management – relationships, for better or worse, are at the foundation of all management careers. Build your management career on sound relationships within a great company, help your people see the value in helping the company, and the rest will happen naturally.

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