Because of the tremendous response I received to March’s column which contained “Helpful Hints for Executives,” I decided to present some additional   “Helpful Hints.”   The two hints    I would like to pass on this month are: “People Do Things for Their Reasons, Not Yours” and “The Time to Start Planning Your Next Budget is Immediately After You Get Approval on the Previous One.” 


Hint # 4 People Do Things for Their Reasons, Not Yours

As a supervisor, manager, or executive, you may wonder why people you supervise don’t do what you would like them to do or why your boss or board of directors doesn’t respond positively to your ideas.  It may be because you described what you wanted done in terms of what moves and motivates you and not in terms what moves or motivates them.  It is important to understand that people do things for their reasons, not yours. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”  The question, then, is “how do we get people to want to do what we want done?” 

The answer is that people will always behave in ways that are congruent with their highest values.  If you understand that person’s highest values—what really means something to them—and you speak with them in a language that resonates with their highest values, you are more likely to get them to perform in the way you desire.

Let me illustrate the principle this way. When I was Executive Director of the Montgomery County Department of Community Supervision and Corrections, the Community Justice Assistance Division (CJAD) of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), announced that in order to divert offenders from the Institutional Division (ID) of TDCJ, CJAD would make money available to local departments to develop and operate community corrections facilities (CCFs). 

In order to get the money to create a CCF in Montgomery County, I had to have the approval of the local judges.  Using the principle “never ask a question to which you do not know the answer” which we discussed in last month’s column, I chose not to put the matter on the agenda of the judges’ meeting until I knew I could get their approval.

Knowing that people do things for their reasons and not mine and having already studied the judges for whom I worked, I approached each of them in terms of why they, not I, would want to have a CCF in Montgomery County.

The philosophies of the judges to whom I reported varied from a judge on one end of the continuum who was the District Attorney for twelve years before he became a judge and had been an Assistant District Attorney before that.  On the other end of the continuum was a judge, who in stereotypical terms, you might call a frustrated social worker. The philosophies of the remainder of the judges fell somewhere between that of the prosecutor judge and that of the social worker judge.

When I went to the “prosecutor” judge I pointed out to him that the prisons were crowded and the state was taking measures which would reduce the number of offenders being sentence to ID.  I suggested that it might be inappropriate for some of offenders to be released directly to the community just because ID was too crowded to handle them. 

I informed him that CJAD was going to make funding available to local jurisdictions for the operation of CCFs and pointed out that if we had a CCF in Montgomery County, he   could place non-violent substance abusing offenders in that facility which would leave room at ID for more violent offenders and, at the same time, provide more supervision of the substance abusing offenders than just placing them back in the community on regular probation. 

When I went to the “social worker” judge, I pointed out that CJAD was going to make money available for the operation of local CCFs, but rather than approaching him in terms of security and control, I pointed out that some of the substance abusing offenders that he was placing on probation were not attending the counseling which he had ordered as a condition of probation. 

 I suggested that if we had a CCF, he could order those offenders to the CCF as a condition of probation and we could ensure they attended the court ordered counseling because we would have the counseling and other forms of treatment in the CCF. 

Notice two things about this approach.  First, I did not lie to either one of them.  I just painted the picture in terms of what a CCF would provide them.  Secondly, I did not talk about why I wanted the CCF, but in terms of why they might want one.

If you understand people and approach them in terms of those values, rather than yours, you will more likely get people to want to do what you want done.


Hint # 5 The Time to Start Planning Your Next Budget is Immediately After You Get Approval on the Previous One


At first glance this hint might cause you to raise your eyebrows and even question my sanity; however, after you read how this principle is implemented, you will see how it will make the entire budget process much easier and increase the likelihood of your getting your budget request approved. 

When I say you start planning your budget for next year, I am not talking about plugging numbers into boxes.  Don’t start with money, start with ideas about what kinds of programs or services you would like to have funded in the next year—both existing and new. 

Once you have a list of the things you would like to have in the budget, prioritize them.  By establishing your priorities, if you discover during the budget process that funding will not be available for everything you want, it makes it easier to decide which programs or services you are going to keep and which you are going to postpone until the next budget cycle. This makes decision making at budget time easier. 

Once you know what programs or services you want in that budget, start   selling   your   ideas    to   those   individuals (governing board, judges, commissioners, etc.) who have decision making authority over your budget. If you wait until budget time to sell your ideas, it may be too late.    

As you sell your ideas, remember Hint # 1.  People do things for their reasons, not yours.  Think about the people you have to convince.  Why would they want to do what you want done?

In trying to sell your ideas to the decision makers, if it becomes obvious that you are not going to be able to convince them of the benefit of doing what you want done, you can delete that from consideration.  This accomplishes two things: (1) they do not turn down the idea during the formal budget process and you may have an opportunity to sell them on the program or service the following year, and (2) you do not have to spend time doing cost analysis for a program or service that is not going to be approved at the budget hearing (3) if you have spent time selling the decision makers on your priorities, it will make it easier to see your ideas at budgeting time if you have decide to replace existing programs with new ones.

By using this approach to the budgeting process, you are also applying the principle we discussed in this column in February — The time to do you politicking is before you need to.


I hope you have found these hints helpful and if you have other ideas you would like to see address in future columns, please sent your ideas to


Helpful Hints for Executives
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