In previous articles we discussed how listening and perspective taking are magic ingredients that help make those soft tactics work. Where does this leave hard tactics? Should you avoid them altogether?
When are hard tactics reasonable approaches
There are circumstances when commitment simply isn’t feasible or necessary outcome. If you are primarily concerned with expedient short-term compliance then our tactics may be appropriate, but as all parents know putting a foot down hard can result in resistance.
If you’re dealing with friends or employees the power dynamic is a bit different than with kids. Kids can’t choose their parents but at work boy your best employees they often can find their way to the door. So, when are hard tactics and the resulting compliance reasonable approaches?
In some settings, hard tactics are necessary especially when issue is important or time is of the essence. If you want to get a child out of the street or make sure that she rides with a helmet on time is of the essence in use hard tactics precisely because you’re looking out for the best interest of the child. There are equivalents in other areas of life.
For example, if your company is going to lose a great deal of money because of an action and other tactics have failed then it may be time for some pressure. If the nonprofit were you volunteer is starting to fail what’s clients because someone is not doing his job correctly then it may be time to use hard tactics like pressure or appeals to authority.
Discipline without punishment
Because hard tactics may be called for, rarely but certainly at times, it’s worth considering the good managers and leaders are ultimately flexible in how they use influence. Yukl’s most recent work supports the idea the great managers are flexible, they adopt their influence tactics to the demands of different situations that they face.
And, let me quote you Yukl directly: “Good leaders diagnose the situation and identify the types of behaviours that are appropriate, they know how to use many different’s behaviours skilfully” To follow vehicle suggestions here it’s necessary to go into a situation where influences called for, with an open mind.
You have to be willing to change things up and how you use influence tactics. One area of day-to-day business life where this can certainly fruitfully be applied is in the area of employee discipline. The worst part of a manager’s job is telling someone that he is doing the wrong things or doing things wrong.
There is some guidance in this particular task that combines soft and hard tactics in a way that is consistent with Yukl’s advice to be flexible. The technique is called discipline without punishment and the person who developed it Dick Grote not only wrote a book about the technique he also implemented it in his own job.
Choose better behaviour and commit
The goal of discipline without punishment is to get employees to choose better behaviour and commit to it but if they don’t do so to move that person outdoor. Here’s what Grote suggests: when employee problem occurs the manager begins with a face-to-face meeting.
The manager meets with employee in order to figure out what the discrepancy is between actual and desired performance explain the reasons behaviour needs to change and seek agreements that the change will happen. Notice here the use of rational persuasion.
If bad performance continues the manager has a second more in depth meeting to provide further explanations and to reconfirm the employee’s commitment to change. This continues the rational persuasion but begins to apply some pressure as it should be explained that the absence of change, the failure to do something different will result in some action.
As a last step in this process, much akin to a three strikes policy, if unsatisfactory behaviour continues the employee is given a full payed day off-day with. The goal of the paid day off is to remove hostility and help the employee sit and think. Employees are asked a very specific question: consider your future with this organization and decide if you are willing to meet our standards?
A combination of exchange and pressure
This is a combination of exchange – the employee is actually getting something, and pressure – the employee is told that they should consider not coming back if they’re not willing or able to change. And, this process requires the intentional use of a few different tactics.
It follows clear and deliberate steps that encourage employees to play an active role making choices about how they are to be at work. When done properly it places the employee in an empowered position Grote’s book reviews positive outcomes that he and others have had using discipline without punishment in a number of companies.
The ideas really are very consistent and quite useful even working with children. In this article I presented information on hard and soft tactics and provided some guidance on why soft tactics are generally preferable.
I also argue that you can make soft tactics work best by listening and taking the other person’s perspective and we found that ultimately we should be flexible and willing to use a variety of tactics such as in the case of discipline without punishment.
Build your skills as an ethical persuader
There are nevertheless two things that you can try in order to build your skills as an ethical persuader. First next time you find yourself wanting someone else to do something, stop to consider the reasons why you want them to do it.
List them and then throw those reasons out the window. Now think about the reasons why they should want to do that. Those are the reasons that she should use as a basis for your efforts to persuade, using rational persuasion, inspiration or both.
The second thing you can try is to ask a trusted friend or family member for feedback. How often do they see you using hard and soft influence tactics? Do you make use of more effective tactics rational persuasion and inspirational appeal regularly?
Ask for their advice about how you could be better at persuading. This is actually an influence tactic in of itself it’s called consultation. Consulting with others to get information that will help you get better will help you build a better relationship with that person and also allow you to have better influence outcomes in the future.