Imagine a photograph of a landscape with a horse, a cow and a hill. One observer says, “That’s a horse.” Another says, “That’s a cow.” A third says, “That’s a hill.”

Why would three people have such different views of the same photo? Well, possibly the photographer has cropped and framed the photo differently for each – so that the horse, or the cow, or the hill, becomes the central object.

What’s this got to do with the day-to-day management of your department or team?

Different views
A lot. As with our photo, different employees take different views of workplace problems and situations, depending on the frame they see them through.

But as you seek to motivate employees to behave in productive ways, you don’t have to accept their frames. Often, you’ll be able to exert a greater and more positive influence by reframing issues to suit your purpose.

Example: Barbara and James battle constantly about whose job it is to enter the daily sales reports into the database. You call them in, and as they discuss the issue, you see their frame: They both consider the task a tedious chore, which has to be done at the end of the day and sometimes keeps the person doing it at work past 5 p.m.

The frame of peace
You realize there’s a better frame. So you explain that the first thing the sales force does each morning is look at the sales reports from the previous day. That helps the salespeople schedule their calls and callbacks, and is essential to their success – and the company’s revenue stream.

James and Barbara exchange looks. And from then on, they share the data-entry duty evenly and amicably.

Source: “Increase Your Influence at Work,” by McIntosh and Luecke.

photo credit: garycycles3

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