Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do managers need simple parenting skills?

A co-worker asked me to draft a post for a program she had recorded with a family counselor. I picked up her notes and went to town.

"Disciplining your child is a challenge all parents face. Decisions revolve around what is the right amount of discipline and what is too much."

I drilled down through the notes typing 90 miles an hour.

"Here’s another thought, what if when you asked your children to do something, they did it right away?"

I wrapped up my work, sent it to the printer and slung my draft on her desk with a smug smile.

She reviewed my output, peered at me over her glasses, sighed and tossed it aside. "That's not what we talked about at all."

I put some time and effort into that draft and thought I should get some mileage out of it. I rewrote it for the 360 Convos blog. EXCEPT, instead of discussing parents and children, I substituted boss and employee.

Here's what I mean.

"What if, when you asked your employees to do something they did it right away?"

(Here's the rest of the 'edited' article). That is the approach, one consultant takes when she addresses this issue with frustrated managers. She identifies it as ‘first time obedience.’

Consider her assertion that once you have to say something twice, you’ve made yourself weak.

She suggests, "Say it once and get action."


She uses a simple three-step process, but don’t try it just one time and give up. To see measurable results in behavior, managers need to try these steps on employees for at least a month.

The first step is to avoid questions. Being a manager is a position of authority, and not one of peer-to-peer, so she recommends starting with a statement. "Please turn off gmail and clean your desk."

The second step is a question, but offered in the form of alternatives, for instance, "Do you want to turn off gmail and clean your desk, or would you like me to?"

Over time, employees learn that the choices the manager offers may have negative side effects when they don’t respond quickly.

The third step, well, for this the consultant suggests you ask employees to leave the conference room. It is the secret that makes the technique work. The manager needs to not ‘care’ what decision the employee makes.

Overall, her advice is for leaders to give themselves time to see the results of using the three-steps and to keep up their efforts, even when the employees don’t appreciate it.

"Don’t expect adult behavior and don’t expect perfection. Prepare for the long haul." She also says, "Employees may not say 'thank you' until they retire."

The goal is to help managers develop employees with good problem solving skills who have the ability to build healthy work relationships.

~end of edited article~

If you have parenting questions, feel free to pose them on a parenting blog.

If you have employee questions, feel free to make something up.

It appears I did.