Leaders: Replace the No Whining Sign w/ This | #Leadership #PeopleSkills
by Kate Nasser |
In a Harvard Business Review article The No Whining Rule for Managers, Ron Ashkenas professes how to achieve managerial accountability. Yet telling those you lead to “stop whining” is a ineffective way to achieve it.
Stop whining is not just a catchy slogan. It is demeaning and degrading and can infect your organization and spread like antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
You lead adults. Categorizing their complaints as childlike whining will breed resentment. That is not what you need as a leader.
Using the phrase stop whining shows your immaturity as a leader. You are trying to ban behavior instead of leading to change it. Adult complaints are based in real barriers to success (e.g. silos, titles, etc…), not in laziness. Roll up your sleeves with those you lead and solve problems.
If you want your direct reports to engage in substantive problem solving communication, then, show them by doing it yourself. Instead of saying “stop whining …”, state what you do want. Leaders don’t make people guess what they want. They tell them, show them, and help clear the obstacles to getting there.
Above all, realize that the phrase, stop whining, is itself a whine! It is a complaint about what you don’t like disguised as an order. If you don’t want those you lead to “whine”, then don’t engage in whines yourself.
Leaders, Replace the No Whining Sign!
Model the Positive to Eliminate the Negative
Model and model and model. The best way to teach actionable behavior is to do it! If someone dumps a problem in your lap without any suggestions, ask them for their ideas. If they launch into complaints, ask them how to overcome those barriers. Don’t yield. Model.
Skip the labels. Labels demean. Stop whining may shame people into a short term behavior change yet it won’t breed positive can-do attitudes or develop a high performance organization. It simply breeds compliance to a commandant leader’s orders — when the leader is around.
It also shuts people up. They don’t want you to demean them so they stop communicating. This avoidance reduces productivity – the exact opposite of accountability and performance. I have seen it repeatedly in response to leaders whose favorite phrases begin with the words stop or no.
Even with children, you see quicker success when you show them what you want them to do vs. what you don’t want them to do.
Create a culture of positive action by showing managers how well it works. How leaders treat their managers is how the managers treat the staff. If you want the whole organization to replace complaining with problem solving and innovating, replace your no whining rule with your non-whining communication. They will then model it with their direct reports.
Ask yourself: Do you really want an entire organization issuing stop orders? Or would you prefer they engage in behaviors that create success?
Free yourself from the trap of the should. Do you find yourself thinking, “these are high level managers. They should already have good skills.” Be careful. This thinking makes you replace the reality (managers’ lack of skills) with another label for the behavior (e.g. childlike, lazy, whiner).
Meanwhile the reality is that many managers are promoted by being good staff members. They were highly responsible for their own work. They weren’t facilitating solutions across organizational boundaries. Unless you witnessed stellar management skills in them as staff members which suddenly disappeared when they became managers, the issue is skill level not laziness.
So free yourself from the trap of the should. It takes your eyes off the real target — instilling more successful behavior and better performance.
To build mature accountability, show everyone what that is. Replace the no whining sign with behavior that models success.
From my professional experience to your success
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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