Are you safe?
Just a typical day at the office, right?
You could tell them what to do, you are the boss, but rarely is that the most effective approach. It is a bit ironic, but I find that you are not very powerful if you have to use your power. You may get compliance, but you will rarely get buy-in and commitment. And without buy-in and commitment, you are dead in the water.
We can learn a lot from the pros regarding hostage negotiations. The FBI negotiator doesn’t come in wielding power and making demands.
They start with building trust by listening. Yes, you heard me right; they lead with listening.
The lead negotiator’s job is to deeply connect with the human on the other side of the conversation, to see the world through their eyes, and validate their feelings. Call it empathy, caring, or just giving a rip; it is what great leaders do. I am not saying you need to accept their position unilaterally, but you do need to treat them with dignity and respect.
So let’s go back to the “office” hostage situation. You may feel trapped, but the door to freedom and progress is listening. Business owners are shocked when I say this but you and your people want the same thing. You’re just saying it differently.
The cure for this dilemma is intentional and consistent communication. Now, business owners frequently boast that they have an open-door policy and say, “They can talk to me about anything!”
The problem isn’t with your posture, but with your position.
You see yourself as open and willing, but they still see you as the boss. And their past experiences have taught them that the boss is not safe. You can’t just tell them that you want change, you have to show them.
Want to break down the “Us vs Them” mindset quicker? Schedule a Listening Tour. We meet with your staff in small groups of 10 to 12 people and pick their brains about what is working, what is not working, and what else we could do to move the organization forward. This powerful exercise will help you quickly tune into what your people are really thinking. Click below to learn more about Listening Tours and how it can help your organization.