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Workscripts: Perfect Phrases for High-Stakes Conversations by Mark Levine, Stephen M. Pollan

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Chapter 5. ON BENDED KNEE

Ironically, the more difficult the economic environment, the more seriously you need to take employee requests. While you may have a ready reason to say no any time an employee comes to you on bended knee, that could cost the company more in the long run. That's because these requests carry more than the usual import for the employee.

It's safe to assume that the people working for you aren't stupid. They know what the job market is like and what the economic conditions are in your industry and organization. They know that asking for something at a time when business is down and when jobs are tough to find isn't just an uphill struggle, it's potentially dangerous. The natural and common reaction would be to not shake the boat, to refrain from making any request until conditions improve.

Yet, despite all that, here they are, asking you for something. That means this request is extraordinarily important to them. This isn't a reflexive action. They're not indulging a whim. They are coming to you, putting themselves in danger, and asking you to do something that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. They have thought about this long and hard and have determined it is so important that it's worth the risk. If you respond flippantly or automatically to this kind of courageous effort, you're likely to alienate just the kind of employee you want to keep. Remember, even in times when the job market is flooded with unemployed workers it still costs a substantial ...

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