"Ultimatums don't work because employees feel bullied and they become resentful. When you make a demand and threaten a consequence, you back people into a corner and they're going to fight back and react emotionally. You're much better off giving employees a choice. With a choice, you present an option, let them consider alternatives, then deal with reality.
When you treat people with respect, you bring out the best in them. Options are better than demands because they encourage people to think. Alternatives are better than threats because they don't put people on the defensive. And reality is always easier to swallow than a consequence, because you encourage people to think rationally, not emotionally.
You want the employee to come to the right conclusion. You want them to choose the right path. You can motivate that decision with a threat, or you can help them choose the right path based on their self-interests.
Instead of an ultimatum, you're giving a reality check. You're encouraging the person, given the reality of the situation and the options at their disposal, to make the right choice, the rational choice. You can discuss options, alternatives, and the reality of a situation. But an ultimatum isn't a discussion.
It's one way communication, and that never works. The consequence of an ultimatum and the reality they're facing may be the very same exact thing. But by treating the person with respect and by engaging in a non-emotional discussion, you encourage people to make rational decisions. It's a better approach for them and it's a better approach for you. In time, they may thank you. But if you use an ultimatum, they're only going to resent you."
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