CEO Tribe Logo

"If you consistently handle [Managerial Moments of Truth] well, you will be leading your team to higher performance, increased learning, and deeper alignment...if you manage them poorly, you are teaching your team many unfortunate lessons that will come back to haunt you." Bruce Bodaken and Robert Fritz, Managerial Moment of Truth

As a leader, you face countless managerial moments of truth (MMOT). Direct reports who turn in projects late. Subordinates who grumble and complain. Employees who underperform. Team members who can't work together. You can ignore these situations. And many leaders do. Or you can address behaviors and attitudes - and change them.

With a little insight, and help from the MMOT process, you can leverage managerial moments of truth to improve the performance of individuals, your team, and the organization itself.

Bodaken and Fritz developed the four-step "outcome-oriented" MMOT technique to provide leaders with the scaffolding they need to address issues constructively. While the process will vary based on the needs and styles of specific individuals, there are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Get the timing right. Conduct MMOTs in a timely manner. If a situation warrants a MMOT, don't wait to let the dust settle. Act early in order to provide adjustment, support, or guidance immediately.
  2. Be direct. The truth and nothing but the truth. MMOT is about ascertaining and acknowledging the reality. If a direct report, for example, made an error, state it. Don't try to cushion the blow. At the same time, maintain respect. You can be direct and polite, contrary to popular belief.
  3. Understand the situation. What's going on here? Exactly? Work with the individual or team to clarify the issue. If it is, by its nature, imprecise, acknowledge that and work to make it clearer together.
  4. Know your people, and their people. Consider questions, including: What are their strengths? Challenges? What are they like? How do they perform individually and as a member of a team? How can you help this person grow?
  5. Develop core competencies. These are the abilities that enable your organization to meet its goals and advance its mission. If you're using MMOT to develop core competencies, Bodaken and Fritz recommend asking these questions:
    • What are we learning? And How?
    • How are we establishing this learning relationship?
    • What generalized principles can we learn and apply in other areas?
    • How can we spread this learning to others?
    • How can we become more efficient at identifying learning moments and capitalizing on them?
  6. If you need to, make it quick. If you spot a minor discrepancy between what you expected and what a team member delivered, take the opportunity to do a quick MMOT. Use the same four steps but in an abbreviated form. As you use MMOT more often, your people will become used to the structure, and this will be easier. A quick adjustment can prevent a minor issue from becoming a major one.
  7. Don't create false urgency. While timeliness is important, you don't need to treat every managerial moment of truth as a three-alarm fire. Let reality dictate the timeline.
  8. Use deadlines to organize events. Missed deadlines are the subject of many MMOTs. You can use them to help individuals and the team become more efficient at scheduling, sequencing, and planning.
  9. Work towards alignment, not just compliance. When people comply, they do it because you, or circumstances, said so. Fine, but go further. Alignment is "self-generating." When folks align, "they match their own values and aspirations with those of the organization."
  10. Bring design and policy issues up to the decision makers. Have you ever had to struggle to produce results while working with a poorly designed policy or process? This is an opportunity to bring these issues up to decision makers via MMOT.

MMOTs are designed to bring the truth out and find constructive ways to deal with it. As Bodaken and Fritz write, "companies that cannot 'handle the truth' will be left in the dust." They'll be left in your dust.


Larry Hart

You Might Also Like..