“You won’t believe what they did to us at work today!” I’m sure that you have heard this comment before. You may have even said it yourself.
A great idea
One day, an executive I’m mentoring excitingly told me how he came up with a great, new quality improvement process to better manage their company’s inventory.
On his own and from his own knowledge and experience and with good intentions, he wrote the new quality improvement policy and wrote what the new procedures without input from any of his employees.
Then he presented the new policy and procedures to the manager and the front-line employees.
What happened next you most likely already know. The new policy and procedures did get implemented, but with very little enthusiasm.
Well, you probably know the rest of the story that under each employee’s breath there was a silent push-back. And when these employees went home that night and over dinner with their spouse or a friend, they most likely said, “You won’t believe what they did to us at work today!”
I’ve been there
For years, I traveled this same frustrating path of leadership. Really good ideas, developed and refined solely by me, would take months and months to roll out. I was constantly having to explain why it was such a good idea!
Why? Because my employees felt like it was Bobby’s idea. Since they had no part in the process of developing the idea, they felt no ownership in the final solution/initiative. Also, they were longing for me to ask them for their input. Many times, they had valuable information and perspectives on the issue or opportunity at hand.
In the case of my executive client, if his employees would had just been asked for their input, which they would have gladly given, they could have helped the executive write even better policy and procedures. And, they would have done so with great enthusiasm.
I’ve discovered that poor decision-making can sap the enthusiasm of your people and create poor results for your entire organization.
If the senior leadership of the organization is not living out the method, or teaching the principles of a participative leadership style (Engage2Lead employing the 1-2-3 leadership tool) approach, middle management is not likely to understand the process, let alone take the time to employ it.
First, let’s explore the 1-2-3 process and then we’ll look at the consequences that likely result from not employing this approach to leadership and decision making.
What is 1-2-3?
1-2-3 is a unique approach to the decision-making process defined as:
At the very beginning of the decision-making process – AND before making a decision – the empowering leader seeks input from his or her employees. Such a leader asks:
1. Who can help me make a better decision?
2. Who will have to carry it out?
3. Who will be impacted by it?
The answers to the three questions above will guide leaders to assemble the right people and involve them, as appropriate, to help make important decisions.
The power of 1-2-3 is available to any leader, if they simply follow this approach as they make important decisions in their organization.
Could I suggest to you that the benefits of such an approach are worth the effort? I know, because I’ve seen the outcomes: better decisions are made, and teams become more effective and efficient.
Every leader can use the 1-2-3 process to avoid up to six negative consequences.
Leaders Can Avoid the Risk
Every leader can benefit from the 1-2-3 process. If you don’t choose to employ the Engage2Lead principles, you will certainly suffer some or all the following six negative consequences:
1. Incomplete Information
You’ll make decisions based on incomplete information.
And the more bold and decisive executives become, the more likely they are to disregard good process and expediently focus on the drive for results. In doing so, they ignore the rich resource of information that can only be found in their front-line people.
Their singular focus on things, and disregard for people, becomes a trap that hinders their team’s effectiveness and ultimately limits their overall results.
2. Save an Ounce, But Pay a Pound
You may save an ounce of effort in one area/department without realizing it will require a pound of effort in one or more other areas/departments.
When we have problems communicating or interacting, we tend to blame the environment or someone else rather than ourselves. Leaders often think that a quick decisive approach saves time and money, but often they spend far more time on the back end of the decision – trying to gain buy-in and boost the engagement of their people.
How easy it is to settle for an attitude such as: I wish the other departments in our company would be more communicative and cooperative with us. Or: I wish others would listen to me.
A leader’s results-focused approach becomes a trap that stifles relationships, actually limits results, and sabotages our best-intended efforts.
3. Limited Progress
You’ll experience limited progress through unilateral decision making. Instead of attacking the main issue or opportunity head-on, you’ll “spin your wheels” trying to gain buy-in from your people!
Employees not only want to follow direction from their leaders, they also want to be respected and invited to use their minds to help their organization.
4. Lack of Inspiration and Enthusiasm
Team members will lack inspiration and enthusiasm when being asked to implement something they weren’t “in on”.
– Bobby Albert
Folks can quickly become disenchanted with supervisors who make decisions unilaterally or expect to be obeyed, simply because they are the boss.
This understanding affirms the well-known adage, “People don’t leave companies, they leave supervisors!”
People won’t get truly inspired to achieve peak performance unless they are asked for their input on what should be the goals and processes.
5. Unhappy Employees
Unsuitable approaches result in unhappy employees at all levels of the organization. This is especially true on the front lines, when folks are repeatedly asked to carry out decisions in ways that they know are not as effective or efficient as they could be.
Likewise, the supervisors and managers are unhappy that the people reporting to them aren’t more excited and enthusiastic about carrying out their responsibilities.
Can you just see the dog trying to chase his tail?
6. People Feel Used
It’s only natural for employees at all levels in an organization to feel like they are being perceived as only tools rather than as knowledgeable, thinking individuals. The result is that they rapidly become uninspired employees.
When we relegate people to carrying out someone else’s orders, we prevent them from having a full measure of opportunity to achieve. They typically choose fight, flight, or submission in response.
Management must understand that to refuse to involve employees, even in the simplest of activities, will only serve to discredit a “people-first” culture.
Has a primarily results-focused approach trapped you into strained relationships and disappointing outcomes? Based on your calendar and daily agenda, which do you value more—people or things? Please share your comments <here> and share this article with your friends and/or co-workers.
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