I was sitting with a client manager recently and we got to talking about getting input from employees. She recalled a situation from awhile back that highlights a problem with seeking input.
She was called into a meeting and asked to give input on a potential new hire for the organization. Her manager gave her a bit of background about the individual (he apparently had some prior connection with the candidate) and said that he wanted her opinion so they could decide if it would make sense to move forward. Since the person was being considered for her organization, he said he valued her input on how to proceed.
My client conducted an informal interview with the candidate and determined almost immediately that the individual wasn’t the right fit for her organization. The candidate was professional, but didn’t have the right mix of experience and personality for her group.
She reported back to her manager and provided several examples from the interaction of why she didn’t feel the candidate was the right fit. As her report was ending, her manager said, “OK, let’s just have you take him on for a 90-day trial period and let’s see what happens.”
“It became instantly apparent that he had intended to hire this person all along, regardless of what I said,” she told me. “I would have much rather he told me that he was hiring someone new and saved us all the time.”
It’s a fair bet that her manager intended well. Either he was sold on the candidate himself or his manager had directed that they needed to hire this individual (that was my client’s guess, in this case). He probably heard along the way that it was a good idea to involve employees in decision-making and did what he could to check that box.
I’m all for involving those you are leading in decision-making. More often than not, this is a great practice and one I advocate often, with one big exception:
When the decision is already made, asking for input just wastes everyone’s time and chips away at your credibility.
People figure out pretty quickly that the “input” is just window dressing when it ultimately doesn’t align with your actions. Plus, you teach people that they are better off telling you what you want to hear than actually giving you real input in the future.
[reminder]Who’s a manager you’ve worked for that really listened to your input? What actions did they take to do this effectively?[/reminder]