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双语职场:做个对老板说“不”的好员工

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时间:2011-05-30 11:30  617次点击 | 0 关注

Imagine going to your boss with news of a delayed project or cost overrun, and hearing "thank you" in response.

That's the rule at Menlo Innovations, a software company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., which trains project managers to smile and thank employees even when they're bearing bad news.

"My job is to say, 'Thank you for letting me know,' not 'I need you to work an extra 10 hours tonight,'" says Lisa Ho, 26, a Menlo project manager. "Sometimes it's hard to do because we have this deadline we're trying to meet. But I respect them for telling me and as long as we're very transparent… I can call the client."

In corporate America, many employees are afraid to report bad news because they're essentially saying no to the boss -- telling her that a business goal hasn't been met. But companies that foster a fear-free culture enjoy better decision-making, more ethical behavior and the ability to truly harness the collective brainpower of the workforce, according to Menlo CEO Rich Sheridan and other business leaders.

Encouraging employees to say no to the boss ensures that smart new ideas bubble to the top levels of an organization, Sheridan says. He sets such a high priority on healthy dissent that he's baked it into the corporate culture through training, procedures, regular communications to employees and a willingness to take risks based on staff suggestions.

It's all too easy to fall into a yes-man culture, especially when workers feel insecure about their jobs. To create an environment of open communication, leaders must reward and publicize new ideas, encourage dissent from staff and even challenge employees when everyone seems too agreeable.

"The company and the CEO and the chairman have to set the right tone," says Peter Handal, president of Dale Carnegie Training. "The worst, fatal flaw in the leadership of companies is the 'not invented here' mentality: 'If it's not my idea, I don't want to hear it.'"

Employees will work harder and more efficiently because they feel listened to and invested in the venture, he says. "It really does help the morale and the spirit and the dedication of the people in the company because they feel like they're part of it; they've given their input," Handal says.

Mending a frayed company culture

Jay Grinney faced an especially tough challenge when he took over as CEO of HealthSouth, a Birmingham-based health care company, in the wake of a massive fraud scandal that led to criminal and civil lawsuits.

"One of the things that was important to me was to create a culture that would be in stark contrast to the culture that was here before I arrived," Grinney says. "That culture was characterized by fear, intimidation, favoritism, a very ego-centric CEO."

On his first day, he called a company-wide employee meeting and presented his vision for the business and a plan to establish openness, honesty, mutual respect and integrity with patients, fellow HealthSouth employees and regulators. He began to hold quarterly town hall meetings that end with a question and answer session for employees. If no challenging questions emerge, top managers will ask about issues they know are raising concerns.

"I don't think there's any single formula for proving your intent," he says. "It has to be demonstrated in every single thing that I do and has to be reflected in the people I surround myself with."

At Grand Circle Corp., employees are graded on their open communication, one of the travel and cruise company's six key values. During a monthly meeting in Boston, executives answer staff questions for a half hour, and the people who ask outstanding questions are recognized in the company's newsletter.

"They're viewed as the champions or the role models," explains Grand Circle CEO Alan Lewis. "The reason you want your associates to raise hot issues is that's where you'll learn about bottlenecks…. You'll see where you have organizational issues."

Recently, Grand Circle overhauled its Amazon River itinerary based on feedback from employees that had vacationed with a competitor. The company eliminated a brand new, $12 million travel reservation system after associates complained that the custom-built software simply didn't work.

"I believe 95% of corporate America doesn't try to listen to their associates, doesn't know how to get to the brainpower of their organization," Lewis says. "You have to be able to handle a lot of criticism."

Of course, it's important to encourage constructive criticism rather than a culture of complaint. In fact, Dale Carnegie trains people to offer feedback in a friendly way.

"In order to disagree agreeably, both sides need to handle things with respect and the proper interpersonal approach," Handal says. He recommends opening the conversation with a friendly approach and something positive, rather than beginning with the negative.

Leaders can create a safe space for critical feedback during one-on-one interactions and meetings. Remember your kindergarten rules: no yelling or abuse, and stick to the principles of respect, and the basics of human dignity, says Ron Ashkenas, a senior partner at Schaffer Consulting, based in Stamford, Conn., and author of Simply Effective.

When possible, build these values into managers' performance assessments and don't be afraid to make public firings when people hit their numbers but fail to meet cultural expectations, Ashkenas says. (See: Is it better to hire for cultural fit over experience?)

You want to avoid the stagnation and time clock-punching that can result from a culture where the boss is always right. "It's draining and de-energizing when people are in an environment when they just have to salute and not be themselves," he says.

Moreover, employees on the front lines often have better information about customer needs and concerns, and sales staff members do a better job selling when they feel like they are supported.

When you are being 'yessed to death'

Looking for a warning sign that you're a boss with a yes-man problem?

"If you're saying things that nobody disagrees with, people are afraid to disagree. Nobody is right all the time," Handal says. "I've seen companies get into very serious trouble by having a very closed mind at the top."

Be conscious of your facial expressions, tone of voice and body language if you're a leader trying to encourage communication. Use an open stance rather than crossing your arms in front of your chest, Handal advises.

Body language can work both ways. In late 2008 during the financial crisis, HealthSouth's Grinney was meeting with his acting chief financial officer about earnings guidance the company planned to give Wall Street. The acting CFO didn't disagree with Grinney's somewhat aggressive position, but something seemed off about his body language and facial expression.

"I could just tell he wasn't entirely comfortable. I said, 'You're not comfortable with this position, are you?'" Grinney recalls. In the end, HealthSouth ended up going with more conservative guidance than Grinney initially proposed, due to the CFO's concerns, which was the right call.

Employees work harder when they know they have their manager's backing. But the big payoff is in keeping the most talented executives, who would be the first to leave a stifling environment -- only to be replaced by people who are just in it for a paycheck, he says.

Ultimately, you need people to say no to the boss sometimes, because nobody has all the answers. "One of the pitfalls of being the CEO is you can start believing your own press," Grinney says. "The business world is full of examples of hubris taking over."



 
你去找老板,告诉他项目被延误或者成本超支,得到的回应却是“谢谢你”,你能想象这样的情景吗?

实际上,门罗创新公司(Menlo Innovations)就是这样规定的。这家位于美国密歇根州安阿伯市的软件公司对所有项目经理进行了培训,要求他们面带微笑,即使从员工那里听到的是坏消息,也要表示感谢。

26岁的丽莎•何便在门罗公司担任项目经理,她表示:“我需要说的是:‘谢谢你能告诉我。’而不是:‘你今晚上得加10小时的班。’有时候,这做起来会有些困难,因为我们必须努力在最终期限之前完成’。但他们把问题告诉我,我就应该表示尊重;而且,只要我们的工作非常透明,我就可以跟客户解释。”

在美国企业界,许多员工并不敢向老板报告坏消息。因为他们认为,告诉老板业务目标没能实现,实际上是在跟她说“不”。但是,门罗公司的首席执行官里奇•谢里顿以及其他企业领导人却认为,鼓励员工说真话的企业文化,可以帮助公司做出更好的决策,培养员工的职业道德,并可以真正挖掘员工的集体智慧。

谢里顿认为,鼓励员工对老板说“不”,可以使企业高层获得一些新的好点子。他格外重视那些富有建设性的异议,并且愿意冒险采纳来自员工的建议,通过培训、制订流程、与员工的定期沟通,把它融入到企业文化中。

公司很容易陷入一种“应声虫式”的企业文化,尤其是当员工感觉工作缺乏安全感的时候。为了形成一种开放沟通的氛围,企业领导者必须奖励和公布新的点子,鼓励员工提出异议,甚至当所有人都太过顺从的时候,要对员工提出质疑。

戴尔•卡耐基培训(Dale Carnegie Training)的董事长彼得•韩铎表示:“公司以及首席执行官和董事长都必须设定正确的基调。公司领导层最糟糕的,也是最致命的弱点,就是‘非我发明’的心态:‘如果不是我的主意,那就别讲给我听。’”

如果员工感觉他们的意见得到倾听,并对公司充满了希望,他们会更努力地工作,效率也会更高。韩铎表示:“这确实会鼓舞员工的士气和奉献精神,因为他们会感觉自己是公司的一份子;他们为公司付出了自己的努力。”

修补受损的企业文化

在接任南方保健公司(HealthSouth)首席执行官时,杰•格里尼面临着严峻的挑战。南方保健是一家位于美国伯明翰市的医疗保健公司,因一起重大的欺诈丑闻,该公司经历了一场刑事和民事诉讼。

格里尼表示:“对我而言,最重要的是,重新建立一种与之前截然不同的企业文化。之前那种文化的特征是:敬畏、威胁、徇私,还有一位以自我为中心的首席执行官。”

就职第一天,他便召开了全体员工大会,并在会上提出了他的商业愿景,以及在患者、全体员工和监管部门之间,实现公开、诚实、相互尊重和诚信的计划。他开始举办季度员工大会,并专门在会议结束前设立了员工问答环节。如果会上没有提出有挑战性的问题,那么,高管将会针对他们担忧的一些问题,向员工征求意见。

他说:“我认为,没有任何单一的标准可以证明你的意图。我必须通过我做的每件事,我选择留在我身边的那些人,把它表现出来。”

而在环游旅行公司(Grand Circle ),员工将基于他们的开放式沟通获得评分,开放式沟通是这家旅游服务公司的六大核心价值之一。在波士顿召开的每月例会上,高管们会用半个小时回答员工的问题。对于提出突出问题的员工,公司将在内部新闻通讯中提出表扬。

环游旅行公司的首席执行官阿兰•里维斯表示:“他们将被视为冠军或者榜样。你之所以希望员工提出热点问题,是因为你可以从这些问题中了解到公司发展的瓶颈……你也可以发现哪些环节存在组织性问题。”

近期,根据与竞争对手一起旅游的员工给出的反馈,环游旅行公司对其亚马逊河旅游路线进行了彻底改革。公司还取消了一款价值1,200万美元的新型旅行预订系统,因为员工们抱怨,这款定制软件根本不起作用。

里维斯表示:“我相信,对于尽量听取员工的意见,95%的美国企业都没能做到,而且也不懂得如何开发员工的潜力。你必须要有能力处理各种批评意见。”

当然,要鼓励建设性的批评意见,而不是只知道抱怨的企业文化,这非常重要。实际上,戴尔卡耐基便培训学员们,要以一种友好的方式提供反馈。

韩铎表示:“为了以友好的方式提出异议,双方都需要在相互尊重的基础上,采取恰当的人际交往方式来解决问题。”他建议,在进行对话时,不要采用消极的方式,而应该用一种积极友好的方式打开话题。

在面对面谈话和开会时,企业领导人可以创建一种安全的氛围,供员工提出批评性意见。谢弗咨询公司(Schaffer Consulting)高级合伙人罗恩•阿什肯纳斯建议,牢记在幼儿园学到的规矩:禁止大声叫喊或者辱骂,并且要坚持相互尊重的原则,以及基本的人类尊严。该公司位于美国康涅狄格州斯坦福德市。罗恩•阿什肯纳斯著有《简单有效》(Simply Effective)一书。

阿什肯纳斯表示,有可能的话,可以将这些价值纳入管理人员的绩效评估。如果管理人员完成了业绩目标,却未能实现企业文化预期,那么你需要对其进行公开地批评。(参阅:《在文化理念上与公司契合的员工是否比有经验的员工更值得聘用?》)

谁都不希望因为“老板永远正确”的企业文化,导致公司发展停滞,并使员工失去积极性。他认为:“如果在一个企业的工作环境中,员工只需要鞠躬敬礼,却不能畅所欲言,这会使公司逐渐失去发展的动力和活力。”

而且,一线员工通常更了解客户的需求与顾虑。如果销售人员感觉获得了支持,他们也会取得更优秀的销售业绩。

当你正被“被应声虫打垮”时

作为老板,你正面临应声虫的问题?希望得到预警吗?

韩铎表示:“如果你的观点没有任何人反对,那是因为他们害怕提出异议。没有人会永远正确。我经常看到,由于高级管理层的固执己见,致使许多公司陷入危机。”

作为企业领导人,如果你想鼓励沟通,那你需要注意自己的面部表情、音调,还有肢体语言。韩铎建议,要采用开放式站姿,避免双臂交叉抱于胸前的姿势。

肢体语言对双方都可以产生效果。2008年年末,时值金融危机,南方保健公司的格里尼正与公司的代理首席财务官开会,讨论计划提交给华尔街的公司收益预期。这位代理首席财务官没有对格里尼的侵略性姿势提出异议,但他的肢体语言和面部表情却把他的想法显露无遗。

格里尼回忆道:“我能看得出,他感觉不大舒服。然后我说:‘我的这种姿势,是不是让你感到不舒服?’”最终,鉴于首席财务官的担忧,南方保健给出的预期,比格里尼最初的提议更为保守,而事实证明,这个决定是正确的。

当员工意识到,他们获得了管理层的支持时,他们会更努力地工作。但是格里尼认为,最大的回报在于,这么做可以为公司留住最有才干的高级管理人员。如果是在沉闷的环境中,这些高管们可能最早选择离开,结果只能是由那些只为领薪水的人顶替。

总之,有时候你需要员工对老板说“不”,因为没有人能无所不知。格里尼表示:“担任首席执行官最容易犯的一个错误是,你会开始骄傲自满。企业界到处都是自大狂掌管一切的例子。”
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