6 ways your employees manipulate you

Chances are, at least sometimes, your employees have you dancing on a string. Here's how they do it.

Think you're the captain of the corporate ship, leading the way to the future? Ha! Think again. Chances are your employees have you dancing on a string ... at least some of the time. Here's how they do it.

Your employee wants to hide something but wants plausible deniability. He writes a long memo or report peripherally related to your goals, but relevant enough for you to get CC'd. He sandwiches the fact he wants to bury in the middle of the next-to-the-last paragraph. Chances are you'll ignore or trash the memo; even if you read it, you'll probably skim over the important part. If you later complain, the employee points out that he sent you the relevant information.

Your employee wants you to make a decision that is favorable to his career. He therefore prepares three possible approaches to a business issue--making certain that two, while plausible on the surface, run the risk of total disaster. For example, one might put your entire company into bankruptcy, while the second would make everyone in the company quit. The third choice, of course, is the only viable option--and just happens to be the one that's advantageous to the employee.

Your employee wears a frazzled expression--permanently. He never goes anywhere without holding a huge stack of papers and then strides like he's on a mission, even when he's just off to the restroom. When anyone asks "How are you?" he rolls your eyes and says: "Working my **s off!" He commits to dozens of meetings, but then sends regrets that he's "too busy" to attend. Soon he's known as the office workaholic, when in fact he's secretly relaxing.

Your employee secretly wants you to fail. (Maybe he wants your job?) He waits until you're about to give a crucial presentation or attend an important meeting and then reveals a piece of information guaranteed to throw you off your game. He provides this, of course, under the guise of being "helpful," so you really can't complain--especially while your mind is reeling from the sudden bad news.

You call a meeting to discuss, say, the quarterly budget. Your employee suggests including some extra people in the meeting and you agree, because it kind of make sense. But as the meeting progresses, it gradually morphs into a discussion of some completely different issue that the employee wants to work on--with the extra attendees now backing his position.

Employees don't want to be caught in an outright lie, so many become adept at telling truths that leave you completely misinformed. Examples include making minor statistical differences seem significant, telling a partial truth but leaving out a key fact, emphasizing an irrelevant but distracting fact, and disguising the truth by hitting your emotional hot buttons. (Note: Our public servants are particularly adept at this.) --Geoffrey James Enjoyed this article? Sign up for the Sales Source "insider" newsletter.

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