As the years went by, my company began to optimize results by engaging our employees through a participative leadership style that I call Engage2Lead and employing the 1-2-3 leadership tool.
I was very excited how empowered our front-line employees felt to make decisions, and how inspired and enthusiastic they were. They behaved as though they were the owners of the organization.
Then one day I heard a few employees grumbling and questioning a front-line supervisor. The supervisor had moved a high performing employee to a larger, empty, seemingly extra workstation.
We were actually saving that workstation for another future front-line supervisor yet to be hired.
As the leader of your organization, division, function, or department, what are you going to do to resolve the situation?
- You could ask the supervisor to move the employee back to their previous workstation. This decision would reduce the grumbling and questioning, but you would risk losing an excellent employee over breaking the supervisor’s promise and trust.
- You could allow the employee to remain at the larger workstation. You may consider doing this, so the supervisor does not damage the trust relationship between them and the employee over a broken promise. But you risk the grumbling and questioning from the other employees getting out of control and spreading like a wild-fire. Consequently, you may lose other good employees.
Is this situation beginning to feel like leadership “checkmate”?
Have you ever encountered a situation at work where someone was told they should expect a raise, and it didn't come, leaving the employee with hurt feelings?
What about a promotion? Or what about a working-condition perk, e.g., larger office or workstation? Sadly, I've seen this type of situation happen many times at my own company.
My mother used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We have all heard that saying, and I think you would agree with me that Mom was right.
That is why we ask our children to move their milk glass away from the edge of the dinner table. We know that a misplaced elbow can quickly push the glass off the table, and we understand the time and effort involved with cleaning up the non-toxic spill!
It's so much easier to prevent a problem than deal with the mess that follows a mishap.
Over the years, I discovered that there were ways to avoid “spilled milk” in our business. One of my companies best Human Resource (HR) policies provided a simple way to prevent this type of misunderstandings between supervisors and employees.
To the Rescue – A Simple Human Resource Policy
Eventually, I instituted an HR policy called One-Over-One to help address this very problem.
So, BEFORE a supervisor tells an employee that he or she is going to receive a raise, promotion, or working-condition perk, (e.g., larger work area, a special chair, a printer in their workstation, a window, a corner office, etc.), the supervisor must FIRST speak with his or her supervisor one level above them and get approval.
This simple policy helps manage the expectations of everyone involved, especially the hard-working employee who deserves the respect of accurate communication regarding these matters.
And I have found that managing everyone’s expectations does boost job satisfaction!
These potential problems exist in every organization. The good news is that every leader can improve the morale and effectiveness of their organization by adopting this straightforward policy.
Why Does the HR Policy Work?
This policy seems like common sense, and it is. So, you might wonder why you should have a policy like One-Over-One?
Every leader can better manage employee expectations with a One-Over-One policy for the following three reasons:
1. As leaders, we are called to define the standards for how we serve our customers/clients, our employees, and our suppliers. The One-Over-One policy is one way we can lead our organizations to higher effectiveness and employees to greater job satisfaction. We’ve all heard the saying, “Two heads are better than one.” This policy encourages our people to tap into this valuable principle.
2. Implimenting One-Over-One can help leaders avoid significant, complicated personnel risk. Without such a policy, communication mistakes are bound to happen – and there is no easy way to correct them. Either an inappropriate decision must be allowed to stand, or the supervisor’s decision needs to be reversed. Either of these alternatives can potentially create significant problems.
3. Leaders can build trust between a supervisor’s supervisor, the supervisor and the employee when they explain the change to the employee only AFTER the approved decision to give them a raise, or promotion, or working-condition perk.
Effective Leadership Enabled
Imagine being able to better manage the expectations of your supervisors and employees with a simple policy.
The One-Over-One policy will help you prevent “spilled milk” and reduce misguided efforts in your organization, thus creating more time for you to proactively build and grow your business and guide your team to move forward not backward.
Are you experiencing more than your share of leadership headaches? Perhaps adopting the One-Over-One policy will alleviate much of your pain. How do you handle this type of situation in your own organization? Please share your comments <here> and share this article with your supervisor(s), friend or co-worker.
P.S. I am often asked if decision-making is top-down or bottom-up. The answer is both! The participative leadership style that I call Engage2Lead and employs the 1-2-3 leadership tool is usually considered a top-down decision-making process.
However, the One-Over-One policy is an example of a bottom-up decision-making process by using the 1-2-3 process where a supervisor obtains the approval from their supervisor one level above them.
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