Managers are often in a dilemma as to whether they should enforce the objectives or listen to the needs of the employees. The answer is simple: both. Why? Because it is the most effective. Before we get to the solution, a little more of the problem:

The employee comes with a topic that puts me in a dilemma. Should I listen, even say that I understand, when I know full well that I have limited options?

When I listen, I reinforce the need!

If I say why it doesn't work, I frustrate my vis-à-vis.

Solution: Stereo guiding

Stereo guiding consists of three steps

  1. Recognising the needs of the employee
  2. Recognising the needs of the organisation
  3. Play the ball back

Recognising the needs of the employee

Behind this is the attitude: behind every question, behind every action of an employee, there is a need. With a little practice, you can deduce a positive intention behind every action taken by an employee. Here are a few examples:

- I need more pay: need to sell myself well and secure my livelihood

- That's not at all what employee XY does: stands up for his convictions

- Asking whether it fits: Need to do it well, not to make mistakes

- etc...

The first immediate reaction should therefore be to recognise the intention or the need: "I understand that you are working for your salary, I would do exactly the same if I were you."

... when I listen, I reinforce the need. That's why step 2 is coming:

Recognising the needs of the organisation

The manager now changes roles. It is important to formulate this clearly. It often helps to state your role: "As the person responsible for department XY, it is my job to keep an eye on the organisation's goals. Let me look at the situation from this perspective."

Please note: There is no differentiation from 1) here, but rather a juxtaposition:

Not: "But from the organisation's point of view, that's not possible because...

But rather: "Let's complement your view with a different perspective...

Once the role change has been declared, the manager can state the needs of the organisation very clearly, e.g: "We can survive if we are competitive. This means..."

It is often helpful to move back and forth between position 1 and 2. Even if they seem incompatible at the moment, they should be emphasised: Both perspectives are important!

"... we have to be competitive. Of course, I understand that from your perspective you feel you deserve more pay."

Return the ball

You often come to some new realisations when oscillating back and forth between 1 and 2. Otherwise, a third step is recommended. Pass the ball back. The poker delegation helps again. The ball can be returned as 1-7. A 4: 

Yes, now we have a conflict of objectives. What do we do with it now, how do we move forward? 

However, a 2.3 is also conceivable:

Thank you for this valuable information. I think this and this is the best solution because...

Or (if it's not a salary topic), depending on the topic, a 5.6:

How can I support you in making a good decision here?

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Sources:  Schmidt, G. (2011), Curriculum "Hypnos-systemic counselling and therapy", Lenzburg