On management: Be the last one to speak

May 9, 2018

Corporate business team and manager in a meeting, close up

A facility manager’s job is about more than just managing a facility—it’s also about managing your employees as a leader. Author Simon Sinek recently gave an inspiring talk about how to solicit the best ideas, and the concept is simple: as a manager, your job is to be the last one to speak.


Let’s say you have a dilemma and you convene a meeting to solicit ideas. What many managers do is open with a remark like, “we need to meet X goal, and in order to meet this goal I think we should do Y, but I want to get your opinion.” According to Sinek, this is the wrong approach. Not only are you tilting the scale in favor of your idea (whether you mean to or not), you are also setting up your employees to either agree with you or disagree with you, a dichotomy that can make them feel uncomfortable and undervalued.


A better approach is to say, “we need to meet X goal. What ideas do you have?” Keep your opinion to yourself until after everyone else has spoken and you have considered your team’s opinions. That way, employees don’t know how you feel. If they think your company should pursue Z instead of Y, they won’t feel they have to justify that opinion in opposition to you.


Keeping your opinion to yourself is hard. For example, you may unconsciously nod your head when people say things you agree with. A good tip is to ask the question, and then fold your arms and rest your chin in one hand, so you can be aware of any head movement.


Before you announce your decision, make sure you ask follow-up questions, especially of those whose opinions you may not initially agree with. “You must understand from where they are speaking, why they have the opinion they have, not just what they are saying,” Sinek said.


This approach delivers two benefits: It lets you hear everyone’s opinion, and it makes your employees feel they have been heard. According to Sinek’s Last to Speak website:


“We sometimes have trouble expressing ourselves and others sometimes struggle to understand what we mean. But that simple act of listening. That simple gift that someone gives us, to try to understand. To want to listen. To give us that sense that there is someone there who actually cares to hear what we think, what we feel and what we imagine really, really matters.”


For more information on management tips, contact Vanguard Resources.