A lecture has never changed one person on earth. Ever.
I observed as a leader recently met with his team with the intent of changing behavior. He started with how some of them weren’t working hard enough. Arms folded. He went on to talk about how there were challenges ahead and that even more would be expected of them. People leaned back in their chairs as if his words physically accosted them. He ended with the rousing charge of “And if you don’t like what I’m saying, then find another place to work.”
The only person in the room that was inspired was the leader.
Here’s why a lecture doesn’t work:
• A lecture says the employee is a child, and mom or dad is going to say “because I said so, that’s why.” Treated like a child, they resort to a childlike response of resistance.
• A blanket lecture for an entire group insinuates that everyone in the room deserves it. Some people aren’t the appropriate recipients of that lecture. The leader is trying to talk to everybody when the conversation should occur with a few.
• A lecture declares that employee opinions aren’t important. Lecturing eliminates the opportunity for input.
• A lecture intonates that the leader’s perception is the only one that matters. The employee is merely a minion.
We are all tempted to lecture others when we’re fed up, disgusted, or exhausted. Just remember that most of the time we lecture an entire team because of a few errant members that have caused trouble. Don’t take an entire team down because you don’t want to confront a few.
And if you’re tired, postpone the meeting until you’ve pulled yourself together.
Most people work hard, try hard, and want to do a good job. If a leader has to lecture, she’s scared and is resorting to a command and control approach in hopes of scaring people straight. It won’t work. It never has.
You can deliver a firm and effective message that motivates the right behaviors by doing the following:
• Accept your responsibility as a leader by discussing what you need to improve.
• Enroll people by asking their opinions prior to or during the meeting.
• Let the team list strengths and weaknesses so they can bring up the issues.
• Focus on moving forward, not placing blame.
These are my opinions only. I hope you didn’t find that it sounded like a lecture . . .