Preventing manager manipulation

With the current pressures that businesses are facing, especially in the financial arena, the urge to force through an idea, proposal or a decision is a temptation every manager has to face. The pressure to get the results that are wanted (either from yourself as a manager or from others in senior positions) seems to steer one in a particular direction and rightly so. It is true that you are being employed to achieve certain objectives and these goals should be uppermost in your mind. At the same time, however, other factors need to be considered, viz.:

* Company culture and its potentially negative impact on employees
* Leadership’s inability or unwillingness to listen
* Resistance to change and the need to address that “block”
* The quality (or lack thereof) of manager/subordinate relationships, and so on

The above factors need to be taken into account as the agenda of the meeting is processed. It is simply unfair to manipulate or coerce employees into a particular position, without taking their respective feelings, fears and anxieties into account. Bullying is not acceptable — never! Manipulating a desired end result may make you feel good as a manager in the short term from a leadership perspective, but your integrity will have been damaged and future facilitation opportunities will commence from a position of distrust from employees’ views. Selling your integrity to get a result is not wisdom and is also not good practice.

When possessing a desired agenda outcome, deal with expressed concerns genuinely. For example, if an employee suggests something that may work against what the business is attempting to achieve, you could respond by asking numerous questions or issuing various statements:

* That’s an interesting perspective — what concerns are you hoping to address by using that statement?
* If we had to do what you are suggesting, what would the impact be on production, profitability and customer satisfaction?
* Let’s matrix what you are suggesting in a table that looks at the potential results and impact on overtime, costs, production ability and profitability (sustainability).
* If you owned the business, what suggestions would you be making, bearing in mind that you would have to answer to shareholders and fellow directors?
* If this change had to occur, let’s list your greatest fears so that we can ensure that they are each comprehensively addressed.

Genuineness of response is critical in maintaining manager integrity. When emotion is expressed or resistance is perceived, slow down and deal with the issues. You should not attempt to “bully” employees into making certain choices or into accepting new ideas. Trust is destroyed when managers manipulate employees.

Originally published at on October 16, 2018.




Jonathan has spent over 30 years focusing his efforts on developing people throughout the world. He believes that people have the most impact when stretched.

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Jonathan Mills

Jonathan Mills

Jonathan has spent over 30 years focusing his efforts on developing people throughout the world. He believes that people have the most impact when stretched.

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