how to avoid telling employees “because I said so”

A reader writes:

I manage about 20 people in a small business that is rapidly growing and expanding. We are fortunate to have many long-term employees. Our previous two managers left about a year and a half ago, and I was promoted and joined a new management team of three. We are very productive and work amazingly well together. I have always tried to be very clear to my employees that I’m always available to answer questions, listen when they have concerns or are unhappy, and support them in any way that will ensure that they are able to do their jobs well.

As we’ve been making some necessary (and hard for some, because change can be hard) changes lately, I’ve been a little stumped about how to answer certain questions from my staff. I don’t want to be the boss that says “it is what it is,” “none of your business,” or “because I said so,” but as not everyone is going to adapt to changes as well as others, I find myself in very lengthy conversations about how they are unhappy with change. I try my best to be diplomatic and take concerns seriously, but sometimes I feel like I want to say, “As your manager, this is how I’m telling you to do it and this is the way it needs to be. I do basically say this, but I feel it comes across as harsh and as if I’m not taking what they’re telling me seriously. Tips?

You can read my answer to this question at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today.

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