How to avoid employee resentment

What’s the best way to get employees to buy into an idea?  Even more than that: how do we get them to listen and engage without any resentment?

A lesson I learned early from my mentor is the concept of an emotional bank account.  The concept is simple: make more meaningful deposits than you do withdrawals.

I had a general manager at one of my businesses who would complain to me that while he wanted to be strict to keep the staff in line, he felt like it was “babysitting” and all he got back in return was grief, disobedience and resentment.  Doesn’t sound like a happy workplace!  My message to him was clear: make some deposits before you withdraw. An emotional deposit can be done right with a withdrawal, but it’s usually better to build up those deposits over time.  It helps you establish emotional credibility so when you need to make that withdrawal, you have the balance available.

If you spend too much time only making corrective actions, or disciplining for unwanted behaviour, all of your people’s accounts will be over-drawn; and honestly, the ones that aren’t will be against you just by your reputation.

The deposits should be easy, but are often difficult for some managers to do.  Catch your people doing something well, provide plenty of positive reinforcement and recognize them for their accomplishments.  It puts them in a better mood and will almost certainly improve performance in the short term.  If this becomes a pattern of behaviour your emotional balance grows.  The next time there needs to be discipline applied, it will be much easier to take. Just remember to make more deposits!

Do you have a story where you have made those deposits and the tougher discipline conversation has been much easier as a result? Please share!


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