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Manage More Effectively

Win employees over by using reason, not force.

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Ben Franklin noted in his autobiography that the beatings he received from his brother during his printing apprenticeship gave him a lifetime suspicion of power. In particular, Franklin was suspicious of power as manifested through force. Years after his apprenticeship, Franklin concluded that force and reason are enemies of one another. Further, he suggested that every manager must choose either to be a reasonable manager or a forceful manager.

Here are a few signs that you're working in a force-centered organization instead of a reasonable organization:

  • You find yourself making more threats than commitments to your staff.
  • You catch yourself saying, "I don't want to hear your reasons!"
  • You've come to believe that firing employees will solve most of your problems.
  • Whoever yells the loudest wins the argument.
  • People are afraid of you.
  • People would rather do nothing than do the wrong thing.
  • Everyone checks with a supervisor before taking any action.
  • The only time people call upon reason is to tell you why they can't do something.
  • You've stopped using monetary incentives to motivate achievement.

Modern managers must make a choice between two attitudes when shaping the culture of their work teams or organizations. On the one hand, you can choose the "my way or the highway" school of management and gain the loyalty and compliance of your employees through fear and intimidation. On the other hand, you can allow reason to rule your business and gain your staff's cooperation through persuasion and self-interest as Franklin did.

Excerpted from Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management