(Part 1 of 2 Parts)
While working on a project with a tight deadline, Jessica made a critical error and it did not seem to bother her too much.
When Emma, the team leader inquired, Jessica said, “It doesn’t matter all that much if we are late. They don’t expect us to complete these projects on time anyway.”
“Jessica,” Emma explained, “the deadline is important. I want you to correct the error and help get the project back on schedule because it will improve customer satisfaction and revenue.”
Emma used the pronoun “I” and the word “because” in a declarative statement to express her opinion about Jessica’s behavior. This influence tactic is frequently used and can be quite effective.
However, I have observed that many influencers shy away from using “I” and prefer to substitute the pronoun “we.” For example, “We need to do what we can to get back on schedule.” The use of “we” by Emma would have made her expectation of Jessica far less clear.
Some influencers also leave out the word “because.” Emma by including “because” explained the reason why the schedule was important.
Declarative statements that include both “I” and “because” increase the likelihood of influencing the behaviors of others.
While participating in a management meeting, I witnessed an intense discussion about whether Alex, a long-time employee, should be terminated. Most admitted concern about Alex’s performance but several were hesitant fire Alex.
Managers who argued for keeping Alex made statements like: “Alex has been with us for a long time.” “Technology has changed his job a lot.” “He’s not a bad person.”
Managers struggle with termination decisions because they realize employees need income for food, clothing, and shelter; and often, to support family members. Peers, even though they realize that their workload is overburdened by a slacker, may still worry about the forever absence of a work associate.
Below are four signals to clarify the appropriate time for pressing the termination button.
The low-performing employee . . .
- . . . is unresponsive to coaching and training.
- . . . shows little or no enthusiasm for the job.
- . . . complains excessively about managers’ decisions.
- . . . has shown little, or no, improvement for six months.
If any one of the four statements apply, a caring termination is likely better for both the company and the employee.