As a manager, you are constantly trying to improve the performance of your team and the organization. The managerial moment of truth (MMOT) is a technique that can be applied in any situation. Done well, it will deepen the relationship with colleagues and improve performance at the same time.
Bruce Bodaken and Robert Fritz have written the book with the same title. They explain at much more length what the concept is about and how to use it.
I became aware of the concept through one of our external coaches at XING, Christian Baudisch.
What it is all about
Regularly, we get into a situation where our reality does not match our expectation.
For example, you agreed with a colleague that he should send in his part of a joint presentation by Wednesday. You get the input on Thursday and it is not up to the level of detail and thoroughness you discussed. Now what do you do? Should you address it or let go as the presentation is not that important?
This is a moment of managerial truth. Do you speak up and face a potential uncomfortable situation with courage and grace? The first step is to tell the truth. How do you tell the truth?
The two authors offer a four step approach in their book:
1. Acknowledge the truth. First you have to become aware of the difference of expectation and reality. Second, you have to decide to address the matter with the affected person. The goal of this first step is to jointly understand and agree what reality really is. You have to be careful not to mix in why it is that way, what it means, and who is to blame.
2. Analyze how it got to be that way. This step is about understanding the other person’s thought process. It has to be done with the attitude that each point of view is legitimate. The result is a clear common understanding about assumptions, goals, sequence of events, and impact of decisions.
3. Create an action plan. You now have to define action out of the insights you gained in step two. This is best done in writing to make it as clear as possible.
4. Establish a feedback system. To follow through on the committed measures of step three, you should agree on a way to keep track on progress. If done right you get a continuous procees for improvement.
Why I found it valuable
The MMOT is a technique that can help you to grow as a leader everyday. It is so powerful because it builds on an important key to effectiveness, namely: mindfulness. You push yourself much more to pay attention to the situation at hand. And it is only in the now that you can make a difference in leading other people.
If you are then able express the gap between expectation and reality without accusations, your colleagues will open up and a true dialogue can happen. Your interactions become more intense, more authentic, more meanignful. And agreements become more binding and effective.
The beauty is that the technique can be applied in any situation, leading to results immediately.
Relevance for product management
As a product manager, you constantly face situations that are prone for conflict and mismatch of expectations. The MMOT can make those situations much more productive. It grooms an attitude that acknowledges different point of views and helps to find workable solutions.
Caution: don’t fall in love with a framework. They support, not replace thinking. Frameworks always have a point of view on reality. There are other views as well. Stop using a framework if it doesn’t help to create insights.