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I'm having trouble deciding between empowering my team, as well as instructing my team about orders from above.  The reasons the team gives, are not petty or pointless, they have merit.  At the same time, I don't want to be seen by top management as someone who's unable to drive a vision to execution even when there is resistance.

Your thoughts guys?

angelicdoctor's picture

Allow your team to create processes as they see needed and submit these to the 'top' for review.

mrreliable's picture

There is no line. Your bosses pay you to do what they want you to do. If you start drawing lines between carrying out directives from your supervisors and feeding in to employee complaints, it's not going to enhance your opportunities for advancement.

It's natural for people to resist change. Change happens when upper management sends down a new directive. Usually the new way of doing things turned out to be a benefit for everybody, sometimes not.

Part of leadership is getting your team to buy in to visions they might not agree with. Any successful company has a chain of command. Orders come down from HQ and your job is to get your squad to successfully complete the task.

If you're sure you know what the upper management is trying to accomplish, and your employees truly have a better way of achieving the goal, there's no problem with making suggestions about ways to accomplish the task more efficiently. But in most situations, when change comes down from above, the complaining is simply because it's different. You'd better have something more valid than, "The employees are complaining," before you take something like that to upper management.

Communication. Do what you must to get past the "I don't wanna" phase. Have meetings and let them vent. Explain that the company vision comes down from above, and your jobs are to carry out those visions. Hopefully it won't get to "We'll do it because it's our job, end of story," but if that's what it takes, that what it takes. Once you get past the "I don't wanna," you can emplower the employees by involving them in determining how to best complete the assingment.

Nevergiveup's picture

These are great answers. So I'm going to drive company direction hard. At what point is it OK to say.. "maybe our people were right, and we need to tweak this?". I am concerned that management is seen as being in an ivory tower making decisions even when the ground doesn't want it. Most of which have nothing to do with change, but but more to do with choices made.

mrreliable's picture

 "Maybe our people were right, and we need to tweak this?"

This falls into the category of what I had stated above, "If you're sure you know what upper management is trying to accomplish, and your employees truly have a better way of achieving the goal, there's no problem with making suggestions about ways to accomplish the task more efficiently." You've let upper management know your team is buying into the directive, and you've empowered your employees. Bingo!

You seem to be going back and forth between "tweaking," and...

"I am concerned that management is seen as being in an ivory tower making decisions even when the ground doesn't want it."

That is a completely different animal. The resentment of upper management in their ivory towers just seems so cliche. You're always going to have some employees who resent anyone telling them to do anything. To be honest, when I see something like, "the ground doesn't want it," my knee-jerk reaction is, "Who the freak cares?" It's just reality. Upper management pays the folks on the ground to do what upper management wants them to do, not the other way around. I don't recommend feeding into that lowest-common-denominator emotion of employee resentment. You're not getting anywhere near empowerment if you do that.

For your sake, I'd recommend trying to shake off any hesitation you have in leading your team to do the best job possible in implementing the directive. If you're going to hesitate because of something like the ivory tower resentment factor, you're going to spend every minute of your management life second guessing yourself, because that emotion is a fact of life, not something to be avoided or wish would go away. The fact is that employees who know exactly what's expected of them, who have the tools to do the job, and are held accountable for their success are going the be the happiest and most fulfilled employees.

Nevergiveup's picture

Thanks for this answer. Helps a lot.