Why do staff members ignore solid advice?

Managers often lament that staff members do not take them up on their suggestions. So recently I ran a poll that asked the question ‘why do you think some staff members ignore solid advice? ‘

The poll presented four possible answers:

  1. They lack initiative and motivation.
  2. They self-sabotage and thrive on drama.
  3. They view the well-meaning advice as an edict or order.
  4. They want the reward of coming up with their own solutions.

Of course the question begs another question “what is ‘solid’ advice and how does a person know it is ‘solid’?” Is it because the person giving the advice is a solid person – someone you respect? Is the advice based on logic, rationality, facts or common sense? One third, or 30% of respondents believe that staff see the advice as an edict or order, not well-meaning advice, while 23% believe staff either lack initiative and motivation and 13% believe they self-sabotage and thrive on drama. The balance of 34%, give staff members the benefit of the doubt – they assert that people want the reward of coming up with their own solutions. Managers should take note not to offer advice too quickly – it is always better to support your staff member by asking quality probing questions to help them discover all the available choices and to form their own solution. They are more likely to commit to a course of action they have created as there is a stronger emotional connection and sense of ownership.

The diversity of perspectives in answer to the question ‘why do staff ignore ‘solid advice’’ suggests there are multiple reasons, many more than I listed. This was quite evident in the comments posted by colleagues on LinkedIn. (Thank you for these insights!) Many suggested that staff will not act on well-meaning advice if they don’t trust or respect their manager or if the manager micro-manages them. If your staff is not reacting positively to your advice and suggestions, you may need to re-establish a bond of trust. And that is the best advice I can give you! :O)

Written by Rebecca D. Heaslip – President of Leadership Insight Inc.
© Copyright Leadership Insight Inc.


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