Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Do You Get Employees to Walk Through Fire for You?

Every manager’s dream is to lead people who will walk through fire for him or her. However, for many managers, this is not the case. Paradoxically, it is the manager who creates the dynamics of the relationship. Your people will follow your lead if you fight for them first.

As a manager gets to know his employees, he should first understand what they
like to do most. And then make sure they have every opportunity to do just that. When they do well, they should be acknowledged and rewarded. When they do something wrong, they should be made aware of it immediately and given guidance for what is appropriate.

When I manage people, I know it is my job to protect them from customers who have abusive behavior or unclear demands. When my direct reports encounter an irate customer, I use it as a development moment. Before speaking to the customer, I will first ask questions to ensure they have already done all they could. If I have to handle the situation, I will do it in front of the employee. That way they witness how communication tools are used in a practical way. After the encounter, I debrief with them.

To manage employees this way, allows them to handle tough situations themselves. Furthermore, it allows me to delegate bigger responsibilities to them. And that ensures I am not doing the same job year after year. This kind of coaching and development trains staff to eliminate problems before they happen. In addition, as a manager, I become less involved in problem solving. That way I can focus on moving the organization into the future. 

While I will fight for employees, I also protect the customer from employees. The customers are my people as well. I train and develop employees to handle customer demands with alacrity, instead of complaining about client requests. In addition, I constantly provide staff with resources and tools to more effectively do their jobs. That way the customer knows we will customize our products or services to their needs. Ultimately, it gives us a competitive edge in the marketplace.

To fight for customers and employees is a balancing act. And there are still more stakeholders to fight for. I protect shareholders from employees and customers. I create products, services that ensure financial growth. I incorporate policies that ensure effective and efficient progress. Also, if I pay employees too much, it will kill profits and we will soon be out of business. If I charge clients too little, the company will disappear for lack of capital. Therefore, the company must operate effectively and profitably. Whether the shareholders are executives who own the business or investors who trust me with their capital, my job is protect their interests and ensure they receive a return.

Also included in this ecosystem of stakeholders are vendors. They too have to be protected. I negotiate a fair price with them and they should be paid on time. They cannot abuse staff and staff cannot disrespect them.

When employees see you take care of the various stakeholders, they will follow your example. At the same time, staff needs to be able to make requests when they need additional resources. For example, if they ask for five things and 2 are unrealistic, I give them three. When that kind of relationship is established, mutual trust is built and they will independently take steps to enhance the relationship between management and staff.

When you fight for your stakeholders in this manner, it is a great way to build a staff that becomes a competitive advantage. More importantly, when employees see your fairness and trust with all stakeholders, they will be more willing to accommodate you when you ask them to do the seemingly impossible.

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know. 


  1. This is a topic that's near to my heart... Many thanks! Where are your contact details though?

    My web blog - business initiative

    1. You're welcome and thank you for reading my blog.

      I am Ted Santos, Chairman of the Board of Veteran CEOs