Leader Effectiveness Training by Dr. Thomas Gordon
A New Way to Lead People
My supervisors at work do a great job at motivating everyone. I respect and trust my supervisors at work as well. I know they have my back, just like I have theirs if something needs done. Upon talking with one of my supervisors, I have found that this relationship that they and I have together is by design. Not in any malicious way. They have gone through, and in turn trained other people on, Dr. Gordon's Leader Effectiveness Training.
Leader Effectiveness Training, or L.E.T. is a relatively new style of management that was developed by Dr. Gordon as a way to be more effective at leading and managing people. This book centers around the leader-employee relationship, but the concepts are adaptable to many other facets of day to day life.
Does it Work?
Being on the receiving end of L.E.T. techniques in the past, I can say that it certainly works on me.
I have never quite had this sort of good relationship with my bosses in the past. Yes, I have had good bosses and bad bosses, but I've never had bosses that I really got to know like I do my supervisors today. My prior bosses give directions "do this" or "do that," and there are certainly times when that is needed. In L.E.T. you learn different ways to achieve the desired outcome, without the bad effects of "the use of power."
The Use of Power
Dr. Gordon found that the use of power was becoming more and more damaging to employee morale and causing reduced productivity. The reason behind this is simple.
In the past, employees were stuck, and would have nowhere to go if they wanted to change jobs. In today's day and age, there are potentially other jobs available in the same field. If your boss is difficult to deal with, you can apply and work somewhere else.
This freedom puts a lot more power in the hands of the employee.
A new way to talk
Gordon reveals a new way to effect behavior changes in people. His solution is called an "I statement."
An I statement is a way of sending a message to the person you are talking to that states clearly and in a less threatening/confrontational way what needs to change.
No one likes to hear "You are wrong" or "You are unacceptable."
Rather, stating "When I see work like this, I feel disappointed, and I would rather see higher quality work."
Clearly, no one likes to hear that their work is unacceptable, but this both takes some of the sting out of it, as well as giving the employee the opportunity to volunteer to fix it.
Then, to complete the exchange, when the employee returns with the (hopefully acceptable) report, you can congratulate them, and have a good exchange.
A new way to listen
Active listening is both a technique for improved communication as well as a problem solving strategy. Active listening involves confirming that you are paying attention with affirming comments like "Oh yeah?" or "really?" It can also be used as a problem solving strategy when people come to you with problems that need solving. By mirroring what they say, you can help them solve their own problems. For example, if someone says that "I can't seem to keep up with my workload" you might respond that "You feel that you are falling behind."
This mirroring of their statement confirms to them that you are listening and involved. According to the book, this can frequently help the employee work through their problem.
Consensus agreement and no-lose solution
Consensus agreement has to do with meetings, and deciding what course of action that needs to be taken. Consensus agreement is different from a vote. With a vote, the majority wins and the minority loses. With a consensus agreement, everyone is in agreement with what course of action needs to be taken.
This can take extra time initially, and there may be some trial and error in coming to the right solution. However, by spending this time up front when making the decision, you save time dealing with non-compliance from the minority, complaints, and other problems with a win-lose decision, or even an boss dictated edict.
The no-lose solution is a solution that is agreeable to all, or at least accepted. It might not be perfect, but if everyone agrees on it, you will have a much happier staff.
Weaknesses of the book
I found myself reading certain passages again. The book can be very wordy at times, and a bit difficult to follow and envision. Dr. Gordon does have classes and lectures available from his company Gordon Training International.
It is a book that really should be practiced with a partner or group while you read it. For example, practicing I-statements with a partner will help you get the hang of using them. An experienced LET instructor, or a company with supervisors that are trained with LET would help tremendously getting you started. I find that people who are trained in and committed to LET are very helpful in sharing their experience.
I plan on reading LET again after I have read a few more books on the same topic, also provided by my supervisors.