Compliments of Nguyen Hung Vu  via Flicke

Compliments of Nguyen Hung Vu via Flicker

According to Hersey Blanchard, managerial behavior is determined by follower willingness: with bosses vacillating among Telling (Unable, Unwilling), Selling (Unable, Willing), Participating (Able, Unwilling), or Delegating (Able and Willing) styles.

Supervisors who have done their job (in terms of explaining change rationale and providing appropriate support) to accomplish said objectives should be in a position to let workers run with a project.

Instead, managers sometimes use the “jerk your chain” method to move elsewhere: e.g., “We’re doing it this way because I said so.” End of story.

Dialogue among adults necessitates a conversation with consultation, and detailed explanation of why the status quo is no longer viable. Town hall meetings, grass roots input, democratic management, surveys, focus groups, departmental gatherings, one on one pow wows, and even informal after work events (at which people might feel more comfortable) are necessary so that employees don’t fall into the “Able but Unwilling” category.

Graciously make people a part of your plan. Cooptation feels less like forcing and more like a friendly exchange. Coercion may be successful in the short term, but it will never build customer loyalty. Employees as internal customers wield more authority then you think, especially if an organization has instituted 360 degree performance appraisal.

The unhappy can always quit – with stars leading the way. None of which contributes to improving company performance. If you’re a boss, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. How would you like to be informed of impending change – in a “do this now” public forum, a more devious “I had a meeting with the top boss; and here’s what we decided. I thought that’s what you wanted,” or, a one on one in which you can provide opinions? Resistance stems from managing at people, as opposed to overseeing with them. If new initiatives are planned, it’s particularly vital to engage persons who’ve been status quo for a long time.

Resistance can take many forms – disinterest, apathy, lack of pride in one’s work, doing the bare minimum, and disengaging organizational citizenship. Be sure to honor your word, because bait and switch always leaves a bad taste in peoples’ mouths. The fallout could in fact be worse than being coerced in the first place.

If command and control is your preference, let people see the softer side of you. Managing by wandering around is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s transpiring -before a mini riot breaks loose. Once disgruntled, it’s hard to get employees “regruntled.” Preventative medicine will unfurl peoples’ perception of an iron fist.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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