Discuss your shared interests

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Q. How do I inspire my team to better follow compliance guidelines?

A. Employees, in general, want to do a good job. They will strive to fulfill the expectations that they perceive are required of them. Sometimes, however, otherwise satisfactory employees miss the mark.

Effective managers inspire their employees to set higher standards. They often use classic negotiation techniques. Specifically, they're clear on the adopted positions of the organization and the employee, but they speak in terms of the underlying interests behind those positions.

A position is a strategic or tactical decision or a personal or organizational policy that a person believes will best serve their interests. We always have room for improvement in the positions we take because we are not omniscient. So our interests may conflict and our positions may be ill-conceived. Effective managers make themselves an invaluable resource to their employees by providing information and guidance that more closely aligns employees' positions with their interests regarding their job responsibilities.

Let's say, as an example, that an employee repeatedly fails to complete and submit patient survey forms. One response a manager may have is to threaten: "Turn in the forms or you'll be fired!" Certainly, sometimes it comes down to just that. But first you may set expectations by speaking to shared interests:

"I know these surveys are a pain. Sometimes you're in a hurry and sometimes patients don't cooperate. It's important that you complete and submit them every time, without fail. First, it helps the company by providing valuable feedback so that we can improve the quality of service. We can also track a patient's status. Secondly, it helps you because if you reach 100%, you'll get a bonus. Also, you'll have more opportunities for promotions."

It may feel like you've said it all before, but repetition is a critical part of the learning process. Invent different ways to explain shared interests. hme

Tom Dardick is a managing member of The Communication Gym. He can be reached at 888-984-3496 or tdardick@thecommunicationgym.com.