Business Leaders: Don’t Confuse “Orientation” and “Manipulation”

Business Leaders: Don’t Confuse “Orientation” and “Manipulation”

September 20, 2022

For those at the management level, employee orientation is a must to ensure that employees stay motivated while creating values and implementing changes to the business. However, leaders should be careful not to step into the “confusing zone” where most start to “manipulate” their employees instead of “orientation”.

A thin line between “orientation” and “manipulation”

Amid the structure of any business, leaders, management levels always play a crucial role in the operation of human capital. As such, the orientation leader skills are the basic requirements for one to effectively establish activities aligned with department goals, as well as offer their employees opportunities to grow based on the business culture. However, it is easy for leaders to cross the line between “orientation” and “manipulation”, which will worsen the relationships within the team.

In addition, not all those at the mangement level can distinguish these two concept. According to Ms. Tiêu Yến Trinh, CEO of Talentnet Corporation, the biggest difference lie within the “purposes” of the leaders. Specifically, Ms. Trinh thinks that “orientation” and “manipulation” share a single similarity: to persuade, and coordinate the employees to act toward a predetermined goal. Yet, if the leaders simply give suggestions, and create the chance for employees to make their own decisions and improve themselves, they are simply implement “orientation”. But as leaders resort to psycological tricks to create confusion, and fears among their team to drive the employees to bring benefits to the leaders, it is “manipulation”.

Manipulate 1
Determine your purpose is the method to distinguish “orientation” and “manipulation”

Nonetheless, it is a shame that manipulation seems to occur much more frequently in close relations, especially long-term ones, between leaders and employees. According to a research by Buss, David. M on APA PsycNet, those in close relationships are easier to be manipulated as their desires, needs and vulnerabilities are well-known to the other party.

For example, the line manager of T.N (30 years old, Content Executive) is a well-known figure in the Communications and Marketing field. However, this person also left various emotional scars upon their subordinates, especially T.N. “I was able to learn a lot from my line-manager. But the fact that I’m pushed to work 24/7, with constant criticism from her, and little-to-none recognition, is the reason for my resignation despite being in love with this job.”

The mentioned manager also shared her thoughts after the resignation of T.N: “The pressure of managing multiple personnel, from multiple campaigns has weighed down my mind so much that I started to control my employees to finish the works I needed, under the deadline I wanted. That is the only way for me to register the goals as achievable.”

In practice, T.N’s leader is not alone in the “manipulation” trap. According to a research, there are 64% of leaders tend to make decisions without listening to their employees’ opinions, despite 82% of employees having ideas that can contribute to business growth.

The nonchalant imposed control can make businesses oblivious to innovative ideas and employee growth opportunities, which hurt their own human capital capabilities.

Manipulate 2Manipulation not only can create negative emotions inside your ranks, but also strangle the growth of your employees

The strategy for leaders to avoid “manipulating” employees

Ms. Tiêu Yến Trinh shared: “The leaders need to brace themselves and stay calm amid various challenges of managing human capital, and pressure of maintaining deliverables’ quality. It is wise to leave personal feelings and ambition of authority out of the way so as the leaders can offer employees opportunities to make their own decisions.”

Whereby, leaders should be mindful of their choice of words in order to effectively communicate and persuade employees without hurting their feelings. The strategies are listed as under:

1. Be attentive and give employees opportunities to express themselves:

Leaders need to bear in mind that employees require freedom to perform at work. Instead of imposing your way of working upon employees, it is highly recommended that you place importance on improving employees’ motivation. Leaders can ask a few questions to offer employees suggestions and chances to express ideas such as “What do you think if …”, or “What can we do more with these suggestions?”, etc.

2. Control your personal emotions

This strategy is crucial in conflicts. An angry attitude, combined with hurtful speech, and ruthless decisions only serve to pull you further into the trap of “manipulation”, and satisfy your aggressiveness while leaving a broken team. Leaders can start by establishing 10 minutes of heartfelt conversation with direct subordinates for 2 sides to understand each other, which will help reduce the conflicts in way of working.

3. Constantly self-check-in to avoid “manipulation”

While some purposes and actions are good at first, leaders still sometimes shift from “orientation” to “manipulation” unintentionally. Furthermore, some leaders do realize that they are actively manipulating employees, but they are likely to brush it off as contributing to employees’ greater good. That is why self-check-ins are needed, with simple questions as below:

  • Are you using imposing words such as “must do”, “you can’t do it”, “not that, this is the one that is good for you”, etc? Instead, you can focus on using positive words such as “suggest”, “as reference”, “try doing this”, etc.
  • Are the works you require your employees based on the goals, and needs of said employees?
  • What are you helping your employees to achieve?
  • Are your advice beneficial to the employees?
Manipulate 3Leaders with proper orientation for their employees will enable the team to perform at best level

People always said it is not worth to mend what has been broken, and that is exactly why leaders need to be attentive to their employees’ voices and let them speak out their needs. “The responsibility lies within the leaders to choose to let your employees shine with proper “orientation”, or leave them in the dust with “manipulation” – said Ms. Tiêu Yến Trinh.

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