Regardless of the role you currently fill – business leader, CEO, manager, Entrepreneur or Subject Matter Expert – you are regularly (and I submit, way more than you should) giving advice. And, in most cases, you’re actually telling others what to do.
Telling others what to do is, at best, a short-term response (because it’s not a solution) to an issue or problem. Telling others what to do, no matter how well intentioned you may be, makes things worse. How, you might ask?
Well, for starters, you’re thinking for the person. They are not learning how to solve their own problems and perform better. You’re actually encouraging them to be lazy. You’re giving them a reason not to take ownership of their responsibilities and duties – which prevents them from finding their own motivation. And, finally, you’re giving away your time – the time you need to do your own job and not someone else’s job.
So, what can you do? You want to be accessible and supportive of your team, but you don’t want to do their jobs. Some of you lack confidence in your team’s abilities and think (incorrectly) that only “you” can pull your company over the finish line. This only works for a very limited time before your actions actually cause the demise of your company.
Others act this way because you want to be liked. Stop worrying about being liked and spend more time earning the trust of your team because of your genuine interest in helping them grow.
First, you have to make a significant shift in your thinking and habits from telling others what to do by offering more advice than is needed to learning how to listen and to ask the right questions.
Here is a quick summary of the process I developed over the course of my career to help my team learn and grow, and find the solutions to their issues on their own.
- No team member was permitted to walk into my office and say, “We have a problem.” It felt better to say “we” as opposed to “I” have a problem.
- Next, the team member had to completely describe the problem to me and why they believed it was important
- With an accurate description on the table, the team member had to explain what they had already tried but didn’t work. Or…
- They had to outline for me what they wanted to do so that we could “brainstorm” the possible solutions “they” had identified.
By taking these four simple steps. I was in the best position to ask relevant questions to help the employee sort through their clutter and confusion. This questioning approach helped them to stay focused on the issue and to gain confidence in finding the right path forward. Additionally, by gaining a better understanding of the issue and the confidence in themselves to select the right path forward, they were “motivating” themselves to take action, solve the problem and keep moving forward.
And guess what? With every “win” they learned something, feel good about what they had done and gained more confidence to tackle and solve the next issue on their own. When your team acts this way, they and your company grow together. And, isn’t that what your trying to achieve?