(Part 5 of 5 on Increasing Influence)
A manager said to one of his account executives. “If you will agree to deliver your service at no commission, we can get a second contract that is quite profitable.”
“Why should I do that? I will not be the one to deliver the profitable service. Someone else will benefit from my sacrifice.”
“True. But our division will generate a lot more revenue due to your cooperation. If you refuse to cooperate, you will lose an opportunity for a nice financial gain at the end of the year.”
This manager’s influence effort threatens the account executive by pointing out how lack of cooperation will result a lost benefit.
Other examples: “If your absentee rate continues, you will lose the opportunity to work here.” “If you continue to be out of compliance, you will lose revenue due to heavy fines.” “If you do not honor the guarantee, you will lose a lot of business from this customer.”
Threats and fear influence attempts are distasteful for most of us. And there may sometimes be nasty side effects. For these reasons, I think the “lost opportunity” justification should be employed infrequently and only after other influence attempts have failed.
Part 2 of 5
Alfredo’s manager described Alfredo as, “a likable, high-performing employee who gets along well with others. He has been with us about eight months.”
The manager continued to say that Alfredo had been traveling a lot lately and the office manager became suspicious of his expense reports. Taxi fares seemed too high and some restaurant tickets included more people than necessary.
The manager confronted Alfredo about his expense reports and he responded, “I probably did inflate some of my expenses a bit. My previous company seemed OK with that. But I know it is wrong. I won’t do it again.”
About thirty percent of participants in my workshops say they would give Alfredo a warning and watch him closely. He is a good producer and a good team member.
But about two thirds say that falsification of records justifies termination. Alfredo did admit his discretion but only after he was caught. This is a character issue. It is probably not the first time and will not likely be the last.
While some managers tend to overlook such practices, especially for high producers, I side with the two-thirds who argue that it is a character issue and grounds for termination.
On the first day of class, a button-down-shirt high school teacher opened his class by announcing thirty-eight rules. Rule Number twenty-three read, “There will be a consequence for anyone who jumps out of the second-story window.”
For the first time in memory, six students were caught jumping out of the window. When asked why, one student replied, “Well, we had never thought about jumping out of the window. I guess we took it as a challenge.”
I do understand that discipline is important, and I am aware that rules are necessary for defining unacceptable behaviors and applying consequences.
I am also aware that attendance rules do not eliminate absenteeism, and social media rules do not prevent employees from wasting time on Facebook.
Some organizations have elaborate, detailed handbooks that cover everything from soup to nuts. These handbooks usually include many, sometimes confusing, disclaimers such as: this is not a contract; all policies are subject to change; and if a rule contradicts a policy, the rule will prevail.
There are no prefab options for good discipline. I say keep your handbook thin and limit it to a few, not exhaustive, rules. The best way to maintain good discipline in the workplace is to hire employees who are self-disciplined.