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Give orders that groups want to fill

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

Part of your job as group leader is urging team members to do what you want. Whether it's to think or act a certain way, you need to plant seeds of awareness in their heads and ensure they follow through.

There's just one problem: They may not feel right about heeding your directives.

Consider the case of a sales manager who instructs employees to adopt aggressive business practices such as pressuring customers to make impulse purchases or persuading them to buy a particular item even though they initially expressed interest in another item. These retail strategies may improve sales, but they can alienate shoppers.

When you're rallying your team to fall into line, it's important to find out what they think. Do they understand what you're trying to accomplish? Do they believe in the organizational mission? Are they comfortable behaving as you wish?

Give team members a chance to address such questions and voice their concerns. Perhaps they can suggest a better approach that will make them feel more motivated while achieving your bottom-line objectives.

Whenever you discuss group productivity measures or propose an action plan, welcome team input. Start by setting parameters and contextualizing the big picture ("Given our research into changing consumer behavior, we want to develop new ways to boost sales and customer satisfaction."). Then list steps that everyone can take and solicit feedback to tweak the steps as necessary.

Observe your employees' body language. If they seem antsy, find out why. Create a safe environment for people to share their reservations and volunteer "dumb ideas" without feeling self-conscious. Teams that participate in decision-making not only buy into action plans more readily, but they also follow through with more resolve.

To challenge an employee's wrongheaded idea, resist the urge to roll your eyes or issue an instant judgment such as, "That's not going to work!" Instead, provoke a healthy give-and-take. Say, "I'm not clear why you think that makes sense for us. Help me understand that." Or ask, "How did you come up with that idea?" By probing to learn more, you dignify the employee's input even if you disagree with it.

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