Solution Saturday: Did I Damage Relationships

This question comes from Megan in New Mexico:

After working with employees for years you reach a point where you can often predict their opinion or next move. Is it still beneficial or perhaps more damaging to ask their opinion if you suspect you will not heed their advice?

For example, we went to an automated ordering system. I spoke with each department manager and store manager separately and just listened before making the decision. Ultimately, the employees did not like the idea … although I decided it was best for our business.

Did I somehow damage those relationships by making it appear that the employees held control over that decision and then choosing a different direction? And yes …. it was the best thing we ever did as a company …

Great questions Megan.

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Congratulations for:

  1. Knowing your team members. Knowing people is essential to leading people.
  2. Seeking input.
  3. Leading through resistance.

Resistance:

Managers tend to resist change because it destabilizes results. They also deal with blow-back from employees. Their resistance may be frustrating, but it’s a force for consistency.

Suggestions:

  1. Don’t give the impression they control the decision, if you’re the one making it. Say, “I’m exploring a new system and would like your input before I make a decision.”
  2. Seek insight, not approval. “You’re really good at …. What’s important?” 
  3. Avoid broad questions. Ask about what you really want to know. 
  4. If you’ve already made up your mind, explore impact and implementation.
    • What’s important to employees when implementing new systems?
    • Which employees will be early adopters? How might we leverage their influence and enthusiasm?
    • What can I do to make this transition a win for you?
  5. Explore frustration, don’t ignore it.
    • I see you’re frustrated.
    • What’s important to you?
    • How might we move forward and address that concern at the same time?

How might leaders seek input when they suspect they will not heed it?

How might leaders strengthen relationships when facing resistance?