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Judging Is Part of Your Job as a Boss

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 23, 2009

One of the longtime influences in my life is my mentor and good friend, Charlie. He is a deep and profound thinker about people and how they behave, and he has shared with me many useful thoughts over the years. Recently he said to me: "Management is like a three-legged stool. You have to lead, coach, and judge."

As I considered Charlie’s analogy, I thought about the many instances in which I have encountered managers who did not want to judge. After all, judging has largely negative connotations in this society. Who wants to be viewed as judgmental or as condescending or elitist? However, several dictionaries define judging as "forming an opinion or estimation after careful consideration." As managers, we are required to make many judgments. We decide on budgets, forecast sales, assess technology and make purchases—that is what we are paid to do.

The ability to accurately and fairly judge your people is, like leading and coaching, a key competency that every manager needs to hone. It is the third leg of the management stool and must be as strong as the others or the stool will still topple. The cost of people is very expensive, especially in knowledge worker economy. Developing sound judgments on the capability of your people enables you to maximize your human capital. The assessment and utilization of your human capital needs to be treated in the same way that managers make other decisions.

The people who work for you are a resource that you as a small business owner deploy to deliver your company’s products or services with the greatest level of productivity. Like the other resources that you can utilize, such as equipment, technology, or budget, you must make clear and objective decisions about these resources. Here are some tips on how to arrive at the best judgments on your human resources:

1. Accept the fact that judging is part of your job as a manager.

2. Establish time to plan when you will sit down and think about the people that work for you. Don’t wait until a performance review is due or until something happens that upsets you.

3. Collect data over time that will enable you to carefully weigh all of the elements that you will need to consider. Keep a folder on every staff member and drop a note in it when you see evidence of behavior or performance that you will need to make a decision about in the future. This can be both positive and negative behavior.

4. Do your best to park your emotions. This is not always easy, as relationships always bring a set of emotions to the table. Think about the job that needs to be done and what is best for the business.

Bob Kustka
Founder and CEO
The Fusion Factor
Norwell, Mass.

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