This weekend my mom & dad visited Reptile Gardens near Brandon, MB. It’s filled with creepy, crawly, fascinating reptiles. Creepy, crawly reptiles are particularly fascinating to young boys and another visitor at the same time was having a tough time keeping her grandson from tapping on the glass.
According to my mom, this young boy was told a few times that tapping on the glass was not allowed and if he didn’t stop, they might be asked to leave. He tapped on the glass anyway. Shortly, the owner of Reptile Gardens came over, crouched down beside the boy and explained “The reason we ask you not to tap on the glass is because it upsets the snakes and makes them feel nervous.” He didn’t tap on the glass again.
Restating the rules over and over again didn’t work. The threat of being kicked out didn’t result in the desired behavior change either. But when the “why” behind the rule was explained to the young boy, down at his level instead of from on high, his behavior did change.
Seems to me, this real life snake story is a great example of how tying relevancy to a particular task or expectation at work may also help produce the results you are looking for. It’s not just young boys and young girls that want to know why.
Instead of simply telling someone to do or not do something, include the reason behind the request or their assigned responsibility. How do their actions impact others on the team, on customer satisfaction and the company overall?
Very few people want to be a mere cog in the machine, mindlessly doing what they are told, just because. They want to know their actions make a difference. They want to know why they are being asked to do something. What happens if they don’t do it? What happens when they do?
Perhaps you are thinking, “They should know why without being told.” You could be right. But taking the time to talk to them, to explain their importance in the overall success of their career and your business, demonstrates you value them … and that’s pretty important too.