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Wading in with your Size 9s?

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Ever had the thought that life as a manager would be so much easier if everyone was just like you, did things like you, thought like you and wanted to be you?!

If you are a manager, you will probably have already come to the conclusion that this ‘easiness’ is just not the way it works.

But wouldn’t life itself be boring if this truly was the case, don’t you think?

In this blog we explore a simple method to help you get the desired response from your people.

It’s an equation, and no you don’t have to be Einstein to get it, but it is as almost well proven as Newton’s Laws of Motion.


Where E = Event, R= Reaction and O = Outcome


What does it mean? Well, in response to any given event or situation, your reaction will ultimately drive the result that you get. Good to remember for both work and non-work situations!

For example – let’s take a typical household problem between a couple......mess! 

So you feel that it is your partner’s doing and when you see the mess you immediately react in the below fashion -

“ For goodness sake why can’t you just put things away after yourself”

What might be a likely outcome? Well, I know in my household it doesn’t result in harmony, and invariably it doesn’t tend to solve the 'mess' problem.

So, what might you say if you want the outcome to be different? More harmony, an immediate removal of the mess or a response that might generate something other than a melt-down.

The above is the desired outcome, so given that, I change my reaction and say something along the lines of.....

- ‘I was wondering, if you have a moment before dinner would you be able to pop those papers away?' -  (how can they say no, of course they are able?)


 ‘If I chuck the rubbish out, would you mind sorting those papers away’?

Difficult? Not really, but it may take a bit of practice. Take a deep breath….it helps!


So, what bearing might this have on management?

Well, quite often the outcome you want is for your people to:  

-          Do something

-          Not to do something

-          Change what they are doing

Think of what your response should be to drive the change in behaviour or deliver the result that you want.

Example - maybe your employee has written an email which has received a complaint. They were perceived as being rude. You know it could be seen as inappropriate. What are your reaction options? Well, think about what you want to achieve. 

You may want your employee to understand how the email could be seen as being rude and you would like them to commit to handling those type of situations differently in the future so that no complaints are received. In fact you would like only positive feedback!

Some potential options you may choose if not keeping your outcome in mind:-

1 - you don’t address the complaint with your employee, you are sure that it is just a one off.

If you don’t address the outcome then your employee knows no different and there is a risk they might do the same thing again.

2 - you 'wade in with your size 9s'

Here your reaction is to haul the individual into your office and give them a telling off.

What could the outcome be? Well, take your pick of anyone of the all likelihood it will be a negative outcome.

a)      They bite back and are very defensive

b)      They cower behind the desk and want the ground to swallow them up

c)       They don’t ever want to speak to you again

d)      They wish you had seen their side of the story, they now resent you.

BUT if you keep your desired outcome in mind, maybe you would say…..

- “We just wanted to have a chat about this email that you wrote to this client. What was it that caused you to respond in this way? Can you see how they might take offence? Would there have been a better way of responding maybe? What would you do differently?

Which of the 3 options will give you a better chance of achieving your desired outcome? 

We think option 3. Don’t you?

This is such a simple model to remember. We have it pinned up at our desks. Just taking time to think about what you want, the desired outcome to a particular situation, will very often help you choose the right response / reaction.

Try it …you will be amazed!

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Published on 28/05/2014 by Emma Harle.

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