Tyranny versus TLC: Five Negotiation
Steps for Managers
by Ed Brodow
Donald Trump's TV show, "The Apprentice," employees are told: "If you
don't measure up, you're fired!" An old boss of mine would have loved
"The Apprentice." I was one of eight experienced sales representatives
transferred to his department from another division. On our first day
in the new department, we were ushered into his office, shook hands, and
sat down. I will never forget the first thing he said to us.
Not "Good morning" or "Welcome to my department."
He said: "I fired 125 people last year and I'm proud of it!"
Imagine the effect his statement had on the group. Were we motivated?
Inspired? I know that I wasn't. I was disgusted. This approach to managing
people - by fear - has long been the norm in the corporate world, and
it accounts for much of the dissatisfaction in the workplace. Studies
have shown that the number-one reason for stress on the job is the boss.
If management's goal is to get employees to do what it wants, this style
of management by fear is counterproductive.
I prefer a more affectionate system of management, derived from my Three
Rules for Win-Win Negotiating (see my book, Negotiation
1. Treat each employee as an individual.
The affection-based manager does not try to intimidate his employees,
but rather encourages them to apply their strengths in areas where they
can make the optimum contribution. He finds a way to utilize each person's
unique attributes to foster cooperation in service of the company.
When I worked as a sales rep for IBM in the '70s, I once alerted my manager
to a threat from a competitor who was going after our largest customer.
Unfortunately for him, my manager didn't see me as an individual who could
make a genuine contribution to the company.
"You are just a junior marketing representative," he told me. "You don't
have the necessary experience to be able to analyze our overall account
strategy. You couldn't possibly be right about this situation."
He was wrong - my prediction turned out to be dead-on. But by the time
my manager realized it, it was too late. That taught me a lesson. When
I became a sales manager at Litton Industries, I tried to view each of
my reps as a partner rather than a subordinate, each with a set of unique
skills. Our product line consisted mainly of complex systems that required
sales reps to master a certain amount of knowledge. When it came to my
attention that one of my reps didn't have a sophisticated understanding
of our big, complex systems, instead of firing or demoting him, I asked
him to concentrate on smaller systems. It worked. He broke the company
record for selling small systems. Had I taken the "Apprentice" approach
and punished him for his poor performance with the complex systems, I
would have lost a valuable member of our sales team.
2. Develop trust by listening.
A client of mine with a network of dental offices set up a series of procedures
for his employees to follow when dealing with patients. But his employees
refused to follow the rules. My client took an adversarial, disrespectful
position - "I'm the boss, do as I say" was his attitude. He scolded, threatened
and even fired one person as an example to the others. Nothing worked
until we convinced the client to show his employees respect by listening.
So he set up a meeting in which the staff could air their grievances and
make suggestions for improving the rules. My client finally heard what
they had to say, and together they created a new set of office procedures
that the employees were happy to follow - and that ended up being much
3. Provide clear objectives.
One leading cause of workplace stress is confusion over expectations.
When employees have clear guidelines for job objectives, this confusion
disappears. The best manager I ever had would first describe the task
and then give me options for how to accomplish it in my own way. It was
the most productive period in my corporate career. Effective managers
do not say, "Do it this way because I say so." They describe the objective,
telling subordinates what to do but not how to do it. If an employee's
skill set is in sync with her position, and she understands her objectives,
she will get the job done. The manager's function is to provide clear
options that lead to the desired result.
4. Involve subordinates in decision making.
Affection-based managers make subordinates feel that they are part of
the decision-making process. Because they are involved in the process,
they have a stake in the outcome. They can later see how they contributed
to the end product, and they enjoy a sense of completion. Workers who
feel that they are an integral part of an operation are far more productive
than those who do not. Employees who are able to see the fruits of their
labor and ideas derive a strong sense of satisfaction from their jobs.
5. Give constructive criticism.
People who manage by fear are often abusive in their application of criticism.
In adversarial management, criticism is a tool for bullying. The affection-based
manager, however, uses constructive criticism - criticism that encourages
you to correct the mistake without insulting or offending. Sometimes criticism
is called for, but if it is delivered in an objective, affirming and kind
way, it will make employees want to do better in the future, not feel
shame about their mistakes.
Ed Brodow is a keynote speaker and negotiation guru on PBS, ABC News, Fox News,
and Inside Edition. He is the author of Negotiation Boot Camp:
How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals. For
more information on his keynotes and seminars, call 831-372-7270, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,
and visit Brodow.com.
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