Smart Move: Don’t Give Employees What They Want

Smart Move: Don’t Give Employees What They Want image DATE: July 31, 2020

Earning trust and respect is hard — losing it is easy. One smart move leaders should make: Don’t give employees what they want. Here’s what I mean…

Smart Move: Don’t Give Employees What They Want

You can pull up all kinds of guidance on the internet that tell you it’s smart to give employees what they want. I’ll admit, there are certain situations where you’ll hear me recommend that. However, today is not that day. Today I am focusing on situations where it’s smart for leaders to not give employees what they want. By following the strategy of not giving employees what they want in these specific instances, you’ll set yourself up — as a leader — to earn more respect, trust, and loyalty from employees. When you’ve earned their respect, trust, and loyalty…the possibility for unprecedented success becomes an achievable option.


Strategic Plans

When it comes to strategic plans, whether it be for personnel, acquisitions, etc., only so much should be shared with those not directly in the planning process. Some employees may really want to know this information for multiple reasons. This is where leaders must possess a high level of discernment with information and potentially not give employees what they want. Here are a couple of examples:

Give employees what they want >> If leaders have specific strategic plans for certain high-performers within the organization, it may be wise to go ahead and share those plans with that specific individual. Why? If you have a high performer who is looking for advancement opportunities, they may be looking at other organizations besides the one they’re in right now…that means you could lose them. Ouch. However, if you show them a way up in your organization, they’ll be less likely to find a way out.

Don’t give employees what they want >> If leaders are in the midst of strategic plans to acquire another business, leaders might should keep that information to themselves. For example, if the company is in the midst of purchasing negotiations, there are several factors that could negatively play out if information starts circulating about the purchase. Additionally, if the purchase doesn’t work out, then there’s no immediate need to go back and explain why.

Many employees want to be “in-the-know” when it comes to the strategic plans of the business for multiple reasons. It’s best if leaders know the information employees want and you can share it with them — do it!

However, if leaders know the information employees want and they should not tell them — don’t! How do you do that the best way? Leaders can simply respond to employees by saying, “I’d love to share that information with you, but I can’t right now. When the time is right, I will.” Then, leaders, you better keep your word! By showing employees that you can be trusted to keep information safe, they’ll be more likely to trust you in the future with information, thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc. they may have not shared with you otherwise.


Co-worker Details

It can be difficult to balance the fine line between a strong leader/employee relationship and a friendship — especially in today’s world when we’re all communicating on cell phones and interacting on social media. Leaders must always take the superior position. What does that mean?

Here’s an instance when you should not give employees what they want: An employee comes to you digging for information on their co-worker Karen who has been underperforming. Do not give them what they want. It’s critical that you as a leader take the superior position. The employee may have blurred the line in your relationship, but as a leader — you cannot.

This may help you know when and what to share…think of an organizational chart. When picturing an organizational chart, leaders should never have negative discussions about employees or leaders with people under them on the organizational chart. Instead, if there’s an issue, work with those above you on the organizational chart in order to come up with a solution.

When you make this smart move, you’ll once again be taking advantage of an opportunity to earn increased respect, trust, and loyalty from employees.


More Information

People love information…especially if they feel like they’re one of the first to know. Employees will often come to you asking for more information on any and everything under the sun. Should you give employees what they want? If you don’t have factual information from reputable sources, my answer is no.

Think about the coronavirus right now and how leadership is handling the situation. People are demanding more information. Leaders are scrambling to find the latest, greatest info out there and they’re quick to tell people what they “know”. What I’m watching now is leaders who are having to backtrack on what they’ve said and spin their wheels trying to earn back the respect and trust they so quickly lost because of giving incorrect information.

It’s much better for leaders to say “I don’t know but I am working to find out” versus trying to simply come up with an answer. Don’t give employees what they want if what you have to give is not certain and correct. You and your people’s success is too much to risk.


Don’t Give Employees What They Want, Give Them What is Best

Every move leaders make should infuse trust into your team. It matters what you say, when you say it, how you say it…and it matters what you don’t say, when you don’t say it, and how you don’t say it.

Leadership is different than it used to be. Leadership is less a dictatorship and more of a relationship. Relationships take calculated communication. You don’t have to be a “yes” leader in order to earn employees respect, trust, and loyalty. Instead, be a best leader…one who shares and teaches what is best for the company, leader, and employee… when you do that, the respect, trust and loyalty will follow.


Leading today’s diverse workforce is complicated. We can help? Let’s talk!


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alyson van hooser

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn.

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