The nerve of some employees!

28 01 2015

“Pay attention to those employees who respectfully ask why.  They are demonstrating an interest in their jobs and exhibiting a curiosity that could eventually translate into leadership ability.” ~Harvey Mackay

“Push back” from your employees in the form of “why do we have to do this differently” is, as the quote says, a good thing.  If your answer as a leader is to say “because I said so” or to retaliate against them for having the nerve to question your great and powerful authority, then you’re the wrong leader for the job (consider a career as a prison guard instead).  Take the time to explain why we’re making the change, and take the extra step to ask “why do you ask?” after you do so.  Very often, they’ll say something like,  “Well, I agree that it saves 5 minutes here, but it ends up costing the folks in the next department 15 minutes more to work with this protocol”.  Leadership decisions can be myopic, and sometimes WILL be wrong.  They’re the source of experience and wisdom if you’re wise enough to ask “why do you ask?”.

Under no circumstances that I can think (I’m sure the wise guys among you can think of some – but bear with me) of should your answer to an employee’s question be NO.  If you have to say no, and we do have to do this often, then at least say “No, and the reason that I have to say no is X.”  A no with a rational explanation is a lot easier to take than a “No, because I said so”.  You may even educate your future leader, who had the nerve to ask you a question, about things outside of their department, making them a better candidate in the future.

Speaking of Curiosity…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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