How Declarative Statements Increase Influence


(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.

 

 

Don’t Make Your Job Hard


Part 3 of 3

Willard, an admitted perfectionist, overlooked tasks that were well-done and focused on fixing everything that did not meet his standards—even things that had little impact.  One employee said, “Willard can walk into a room, spot a pencil laying in a corner and commence a ten-minute lecture on the value of an orderly workspace.”

Willard expressed his philosophy as, “I don’t want them to think that I’m ever pleased with their performance.”

Willard approached his weekly meetings like a hand grenade with the pin pulled.  Staff expected to be chewed out for something that Willard perceived to be amiss or less than perfect.  Employees began building elaborate defenses for their actions.  And worse, a few members began hiding information and even falsifying data in attempts to avoid Willard’s wrath.

As pressure increased, performance dipped.  Some good employees left. No one took initiative to solve problems and opportunities were ignored.  Willard’s stress level increased and he had trouble sleeping, He feared that he was failing and began flailing even more.

Willard made his job hard by focusing on failures.  Of course, effective leaders seek improvements and they correct mistakes quickly, but their major attention focuses on glorifying improvements and celebrating successes.

Effective Leaders Make Hard Decisions


An administrator of a group of professionals said to me, “My team knows more about their responsibilities than I do.  I rely heavily on their input for major decisions.”

“Are there times when your team disagrees?” I asked.

“Oh sure.  But we talk it out.  Sometimes, when there are strong opinions, we may postpone a decision until we have more information.”

When I talked to team members, I got a different perception.  One said, “Our administrator does not like to make decisions.  We discuss and discuss.  Sometimes we put important decisions off too long.”

Another said, “Eventually, we grow weary of discussing and agree to things we may not even support.”

I think many leaders, under the guise of participative leadership, allow discussions to continue to a numbing point.  Fatigue sets in and members accept a compromised, water-down decision just to get rid of it.  In addition to a weakened decision, members show little passion for executing.

It is important, I believe, for leaders to get input from their team members when making complex decisions.  However, decision making is a key responsibility of leadership. Effective leaders collect data, offer suggestions, seek input and then make clear and unequivocal decisions.

Older Employees May Feel Uncomfortable Working for Young Managers


Two employees from different departments were talking about their new managers.

“I know our new manager is smart and knows computers, but he is very young and pretty green.  He has a lot to learn.”

The friend responded, “Our new manager looks young enough to be my grandson but he has fit in really well.  Even our long-time employees respect him.”

When managing employees who are older, it is safe to assume that some of the old timers may be resentful and skeptical.

The manager in the first example made an early assessment of changes he wanted to make and he got management’s support.  However, when he presented his ideas to his team, many become doubtful and reluctant—he came across as insensitive and impulsive.

The second manager interviewed all his employees and got to know them as individuals.  He let his team know that his top priority was to ensure their success and well-being.  He asked many questions and when good suggestions emerged, the manager gave proper credit.  The youthful manger often used phrases like “What do you think?” and “How can I help with that?”

While young leaders cannot outrace time, they must earn their team’s respect.

There is No Substitute for Face-to-Face


“Some of my team members work in the office and some are in the field,” explained Tillford.  “People in the field seem to have difficulty understanding my expectations.  I often have to send documents back for corrections and updates.”

Tillford further explained that the office and field members were well-trained and, thanks to robust electronic media, he used the same format for communicating to both groups.

I asked, “Do field staff every come to the office?  Do you visit them in the field?”

“Field people come in every quarter for our all-hands meetings but I don’t get much one-on-one time with them.”

I said to Tillford that perhaps he should make time for more face-to-face contact, either by periodically visiting field offices or by asking field staff to travel to his office.  Because of the cost and inconvenience, Tillford had resisted doing this in the past.  However, because he was so frustrated with current performances, he agreed to try it.

Six months later, Tillford reported, “I can’t believe how much our communication has improved.  After just a few field visits, our understanding improved dramatically and field team members are performing just as well, maybe even better, than their office counterparts.”