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Chapter 24. Getting Less Difficult—Words... > Wanna Be More Consistent and Congrue... - Pg. 261

Getting Less Difficult--Words and Deeds 261 Jeff manages with what he calls an open-door policy. Every chance he gets, he tells his staff that if they have problems, have suggestions to make, or need to talk to him for whatever reason, to come see him. The door is, so to speak, always open, according to Jeff. But Jeff is going nuts. Despite his best efforts to encourage employees to come talk, they don't. Not only are people hesitant to make decisions, but they aren't giving him the information he needs to keep current. Things are going astray, and nobody tells him. And it's getting worse. The less people talk to Jeff, the more frustrated he gets. The more frustrated he gets, the angrier he appears. And he thinks there must be something wrong with his staff. From the Manager's Desk If you find your staff not taking your invitations seriously, look to see whether your words and your actions aren't matching up. Or, ask your employees for feedback. He can't figure it out. What's really happening is that Jeff's got bad congruency. When people come to his office to talk, they sees Jeff hunched over his computer laboriously typing something or other. That's not a big deal. But when someone knocks on the door, Jeff either completely ignores him or her, or just grunts something. On a good day Jeff asks the person to come in, but doesn't even look up, sometimes for as long as five minutes. His employees have discovered that it's bloody painful and uncomfortable to come talk to Jeff. There may be an open door, but there doesn't seem to be an open mind or even a positive reception. When there is a clash between what a person says and what a person does, people believe the actions and/or the body language. So they stop going. They stop interrupting. And they begin to wonder about the genuineness of Jeff's invitation. What should Jeff have done? Rather than get frustrated and blame employees for cutting him out of the loop, he should have asked for feedback. It's the obvious thing. If Jeff really wanted to fix the problem, all he had to do was ask whether there were things he was doing that made it difficult for people to come to him. Then he could address those behaviors. Perhaps he could change what he says and put aside some specific office hours to talk with em- ployees. Or he could modify his interpersonal behavior so it becomes more inviting and hospitable. So if you find that people don't seem to believe what you say, your first action should be to determine why they aren't taking your words seriously. And the only way you can do that is to get feedback from people. If you talk about wanting people to be involved and make suggestions and they don't, find out why. Maybe they don't offer their ideas because you don't handle them well. After you have identified the problem, you can fix it. And fixing it involves making your words and actions more congruent in the eyes of your employees or the people around you. The Least You Need to Know · Both your words and your actions affect how people see you.