Thursday, April 14, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--Put Up with Skeptics

Too many people in this world believe every transaction is a win-lose. One year, we changed a "perfect attendance" award program. If an employee worked consistently for a whole quarter, the person could earn a half-day of vacation. Occasionally, employees would argue, connive or consume a day of vacation in order to have no unexcused absences and earn the four hours off. Our supervisors were spending a lot of time dealing with various employees and their attendance records. So, we abolished the program and instituted a new benefit of two days' personal time-off (flex holidays).

It didn't take long before I started hearing complaints about the change. One person said that they were getting screwed. "How so?" I asked. "You took away the Perfect Attendance award," he replied. "Okay," I asked, "how much time-off could you earn through Perfect Attendance? And what did you have to do to earn the time-off?" "Two days, if we were here every day." "How much time-off do you have with the new flex holidays?" "Two days." "And what do you have to do to earn them?" "Nothing...forget I asked," he answered and walked away, convinced that management didn't win and the employees lost when the change came through.

When a company became employee-owned, some thought they too were losing something. If the owners, who were selling stock to the ESOP Trust for the employees, were getting money, somehow it meant that the employees were losing money. After I asked them a few questions to help them explore the transaction (no money out of their pocket, no reduction in pay, great potential for reward at retirement or termination), they began to understand it as a win-win deal.

You might not convince everyone. Some people are stubborn about their paradigms.

Today, look for the skeptic in your company. Acknowledge their skepticism and the reasons behind it. Answer their questions honestly. Ask sincere questions.

For C12 and Truth@Work members, consider Abraham talking with God about Sodom and Gemorrah. He wondered if God would truly destroy the righteous along with the unrighteous. God entered into an honest dialogue with Abraham. Some skeptics, like Zechariah, the Baptist John's father, were punished for doubting God, but were restored later. We too can find ways to restore relationships with our skeptics.

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