Had a friend relate a communication from a Big Wig at a large corporation. Seems that the peons were getting careless with their reporting, specifically their project statii and time reports. So in a global communication to the entire organization, Mr. Wig mentioned that not everyone was participating in this mandatory activity. And rather than leaving it at that or perhaps going on to the benefits of having everyone report or providing an incentive to do so, he continued with several threatening conditionals and condescending remarks. This coworker related that it felt a lot like the parent-child relationship.One problem. That doesn’t work for parent-child relationships either. I go through this every night… It’s bath time. It’s bed time. Eat your chicken. Don’t put sand in your sister’s hair. Don’t try to set the dog on fire. Baseballs aren’t to be thrown in the house. The bushes aren’t for stopping your bicycle. Don’t try to see how far away away you can stand and still hit the toilet. It’s just all in a day’s work for the parent (and a special shout out to all the Mom’s in the audience, even if we are a day late on that one — we took yesterday off. In honor of you, yeah, that’s it — to honor moms). But the harder a parent presses to get their way, the more likely the child rebels. People want to believe it’s their idea, it’s their choice, their decision. That’s why we ask, “Would you rather brush your teeth or put your PJ’s on first?” The child gets to choose the outcome — they are left in control. Well sorta.So back to the business world. Threats from the “authority” can be enforced, to be sure. But it’s rarely a good idea. Instead of statements with a tone like “we WILL get you to fill out your time sheets, and if you don’t believe us, just watch.”, responses will be more favorable with facts and putting the decision squarely in the court of the employee. There are tons of ways to do this, from “if we can’t get a clear picture of what we’re spending our time on, we’ll need to spend more resources chasing down status, and that eats into profit which means less bonus for each of you.” to the blatant carrot of “if we can get 98% participation in next week’s status reports, we’ll take everyone to the baseball game next week.” Even people who don’t like baseball will participate. In both cases, the point is made, and the decision is in the hands of the only ones who can really make it happen.Parents know when the power is in the child’s hands, and even though authority, the law, and size is typically on the parent’s side, it’s not wise to try to enforce that. Likewise in the business setting, it’s best to get people to join you, rather than work despite you.
Give people the options and the reasons to agree with you.