By Shun McGhee
Contributor, Career Services
June 5, 2014 marked the end of my nephew’s 8th grade school year, an occurrence that was celebrated by a graduation ceremony. In addition to our attendance, both sets of my nephew’s grandparents traveled to the ceremony as well. Since the grandparents had traveled quite some distance, they asked my niece if her grandmother could please sleep in her bed for the night, to which my niece responded, “Yes.”
The following day my wife reflected on the conversation, and asked if I believed my niece should have even been involved in the decision making process? You see, my wife and I grew up in a time when parents did not really consult their children about decisions. My wife and I both respect the way we were raised, and often find ourselves engaged in debates about the differences in the parenting we received, and the kind provided to today’s youth.
I pondered my wife’s question and responded that I thought asking whether her grandmother could please sleep in the bed please was fine. In thinking, it occurred to me that several evaluations were being made at the moment the question was posed. My nieces’ mother instilled in her daughter the value of sharing, though here was a chance to see it in practice. Without a doubt my sister-in-law could have simply instructed her to give up her bed, though by asking her, she invited her to make a mature decision and help a family member. My niece rose to the occasion.
This story offers some valuable lessons I believe can be applied in the workplace. When in a position of authority, it is good to include subordinates in the decision making process when possible. If you have chosen good people to be on your team, they come with their own set of skills and talents, and allowing them to have a voice will make them feel like willing participants, not simply robots to do what they are told. My mother often says, “You win more flies with honey than vinegar.” I know that in most instances the adage includes bees rather than flies, though the point remains: that being kind to people often gets you further than “lording” your authority over them.
It can be far too easy when given a certain measure of power to catch the “Jeanie syndrome,” where you make requests of people reporting to you and they seem to magically happen. If not careful, this can result in a “my wish is your command” type of relationship with your personnel. Left unchecked, this is neither good for the team leader or the team member.
If you are a manager, or aspiring to be one, and reading this look for occasions to include your teammates in the decision making process. It will help them feel valuable and may build your confidence in their ability to make good decisions.
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