19 — Great bosses don’t give orders
You have arrived. You are a manager with umpteen people. Gender be damned, you are Da Man! Time to gear up, get your team focused on your priorities, to rise to the occasion, kick ass and take names, and whatever one hundred and thirteen other clichés you want to use. It’s time to give orders and watch people scurry to do your bidding.
Whoa! Back up.
First off, Management Emperor, don’t even think about giving orders. Avoid giving orders. Orders are for Third World dictators, not up-and-comers in the business world.
Great managers follow a different principle: “Give suggestions, not orders.”
Here’s the drill: People reporting to you are co-workers, not drones. They are your firm’s most valuable resource. They are not slaves; they are the ticket to your future. Treat them like valuable commodities. Better yet, treat them like relatives you really, really like.
Fine, got it. No orders.
But, then what?
A great manager at his or her first departmental or project meeting would tell co-workers the following:
I don’t give orders. I offer suggestions. With those suggestions you have three choices:
- Do it, because it’s the right thing to do.
- Don’t do it, but give me a better idea and a plan how you can make it work.
- Don’t do it.
Nos. 1 and 2 are always acceptable. No 3 never is.
That sets a clear avenue for directions. It offers coworkers opportunities not only to be parts of the team, but to have input into solutions to problems or thorny projects. If you use the “suggestions, not orders” approach, you will empower the people you work with, acknowledge they will have good ideas, and guarantee that you will listen to them. You will lift them up, and at the same time set boundaries of protocol, punctuated by a request for their help.
Can’t get much better than that.
Which brings up the inevitable question: What happens when an employee
embraces the third choice – just not doing what you suggested?
Make sure your co-workers understand: “If I have to ever give you an order, that is never good for you or me – because I don’t enjoy conflict.”
Clear. Concise. Understandable.
The birth and growth of a great manager is not a one-event occurrence. Learning the ability to communicate will always open one of the main pathways to success.
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