Coach every new manager: The camera loves you baby.

For nearly three full years now, Hawaii’s Heisman finalist Colt Brennan has
been a media darling. Google his name, and 440,000 entries come up.
43,705 people have donated to his Wikipedia entry. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone in our islands who doesn’t follow UH football
here right now, but even they have had countless opportunities to see
and hear Colt Brennan on our newscasts just about every night, every
channel. I have often thought to myself, thank goodness Colt is
majoring in communications; I hope he’s doing well in class!

99.9% of the time, he’s been the star and handled it well, but right
now, just as every NFL scout in the nation is watching, he’s painfully
struggling with that other .1%

Jaymes Song wrote for the Associated Press,

In his three years at Hawaii, Colt Brennan set 31 NCAA records. Chances
are, the one people will remember most will be his 131 career
touchdowns passing.

I surely do hope so! He has earned our understanding right now.

Your Day in the Life episodes may not make it to such a brutal stage,
but if you are a manager, chances are you’ve felt that .1% struggle way
more often than Brennan has. If not, I guarantee you, you will.

I have a list of trigger words that I periodically review in the
coaching I do, and there is one in particular that I key on each time
I’m called on for talks or training with new supervisors, when I’m
coaching my execs and those newly promoted to leadership roles, and in
any change management intervention I get an SOS for. The word is
visibility. Your visibility instantly balloons the very moment you
become a manager. You don’t have Brennan’s fame, and you likely can’t
afford to hire a publicist or executive coach (yet :) so you have to
behave in the way that guarantees you’ll never need one
. You are now
under constant scrutiny, and as a very human Colt Brennan lost track of
this past Tuesday night within the swirl of his emotions, you often
can’t tell that the camera is still pointed in your direction capturing
every single vulnerability you have.

“Can’t tell” isn’t the same as “not aware of.”

Add this to your Talk Story Checklist:

Every boss needs to coach every new manager about visibility on their Day One on the job.

I love the way that restaurateur Danny Meyer does this, as described in his book, Setting the Table. There’s nothing like a great metaphor to help your new supervisors and managers remember this.

The moment people become managers for the first time, it will be as if the following three things have happened:

  • An imaginary megaphone has been stitched to their lips, so that
    everything they say can now be heard by twenty times more people than
  • The other staff members
    have been provided with a pair of binoculars, which they keep trained
    on the new managers at all times, guaranteeing that everything a
    manager does will be watched and seen by more people than ever.
  • The new managers have
    received the gift of “fire,” a kind of power that must be used
    responsibly, appropriately, and consistently.

Meyer’s full description on this alone (pages 195-198) is worth the price of the book.

The above excerpt is from the Talking Story archives: Waiting Tables and Work Ethic.