Monday, November 9, 2009

It Stands to Reason

I just read an article in the November 9, Newsweek about the difference in cognitive growth, (basic language and speaking skills) of children whose parents reason with them and those whose parents command them. WOW!! I've been talking about these differences for quite awhile. When I work with supervisors in some of my leadership communication training. I often get the question: "Why can't I just tell them what to do? It's their job and I'm their boss." I usually tell them that of course they can demand obedience from their subordinate staff members but that it will come at a price. Usually the price is bad attitude; lack of motivation; unconscious or conscious sabotage; high turnover; increase in sick days; and the list goes on. Of course, some supervisors have the luxury of firing workers who exhibit those habits. But then, many employees these days are so protected by their unions that firing is not an option. This of course could lead to a conversation about how the unions have employers by the short hairs. But maybe it should lead to a conversation about how to develop leaders to adopt are more reasonable (compassionate) style of communication. Instead of demanding, ordering or even instructing something be done, why not try explaining the reasoning and the need behind it. It may on the surface look like it will take more time, but in actuality, it may save time, energy, stress, hard feelings, disciplinary warnings and pink slips. This of course does NOT mean to become a doormat and allow the employee to run the show by debating all of your requests. It simply means giving the employee sound reasoning behind your decisions. If the employee still wants to buck a request which you believe will improve your work place, bottom line or organization, then it's time to dust off the disciplinary code book. There are still many employees (and children) who have no problem doing just what they are told but I believe that these individuals might be happier and more productive if they were treated as though their imput and opinions mattered.