Blurry Vision Syndrome

October 19, 2020, by: fbgconsulting

Think of an opportunity where you’ve held an object really close to your eyes? If you reflect on the experience you will describe it as the object blocking your panoramic view, not being able to appreciate the details and perhaps your vision being foggy. It is truly uncomfortable to be so close that your vision is impaired.

However, the same thing may happen when you get too close to people you supervise. You can lose your objectivity, not coming through as assertive and focused as you tend to be. Your panoramic view may be blocked, not allowing you to have a clear understanding of where they stand in comparison to others.   You may not be able to appreciate or recognize the details of their performance or behaviors, losing your neutrality and objectivity in your perspective. Your vision may be blurred.

I recently experienced that reaction from a supervisor while I was providing her with feedback on her staff. I had conducted an assessment exercise for her  top employees and at the time of the feedback she presented a very passionate defense on some of the people she supervised.  The basis of the discussion was that I had rated them with a lesser degree of potential than what she appreciated they had. She was so emotional in the discussion, that I decided to take a second look as I re-engaged with them to provide feedback.  I was confident I didn’t get it wrong the first time, but I’m aware that an assessment is an art not a science, so there is room for misinterpretation.  I also wanted to be respectful of her perception and daily interaction with them.  I also wanted to give this supervisor additional information on the areas to improve so she could mentor them better.  As an external consultant I had no particular reason to prefer one person versus another, no loyalty to anyone, but I did take extra time with them and after the reassessment I came back with the same results.

However, this defense prompted me to reflect.  How could an individual whom I perceived as a strong and successful leader perceive someone so differently? So, I pondered about the event hoping to get a better understanding of the behavior. I initially justified it thinking we were operating on different definitions, different experiences. However, I realized that she had “blurry vision syndrome”.

When this is present the emotional takes priority over the rational. The employees give more than they take, are loyal, don’t question the supervisor, letting them occupy their place of authority and knowledge. They are supportive of their objectives and expectations. In return the supervisor truly believes in them, trusts them, is grateful for the support and gratifies them for their behavior. This creates great rapport but also a co-dependency situation.

The result is organizational misalignment, confusion relative to what’s required to succeed and misplaced loyalty.  However, as a supervisor you should not sustainably and effectively make decisions based on these emotional markers, so to safeguard against this you should:

  • Recognize that there may be other perspectives about your staff that differ from yours, so ask others to provide their input to keep your own perspective in check
  • Consider the possibility that you are suffering from “blurred vision”
  • Be rational not emotional (grateful, loyal) when assessing people
  • Be balanced in your approach (consider the strengths as well as the shortcomings)
  • Understand you can only help this person if you’re clear about where they need to improve

Take into account that you are being assessed in how you assess others; and that your organization will be much better if you clear your vision