March 1, 2010

Managers Playing Ignorant – Developing Employees

Sometimes, it’s easy to show that we are the boss, by always having the answers that our people need.

Yet the smartest managers don’t always share the answers they have.

Because any manager wants to be the resource their people need. In fact, being able to solve problems your way is a great way to remind your people that’s the reason you are their manager, because you know the way to fix things.

Sometimes though, it will be valuable to be less than the cleverest person in the team, because letting them find out will help them in bigger ways as they develop and grow their skills.

The biggest challenge you will find in using this activity will be you. Your people will love it as they are utilized to share their ideas and solutions.

So, are you big enough to try this and not be the resource every time for the problems your people bring you, showing your ‘manager prowess’ off to fuel your own self-belief, important though that is in itself?

Many managers feel that by letting go of being ‘solution-finder’ they will lose respect, yet, quite simply, the truth is the opposite. Because no-one likes a know-it-all, so they stop respecting and start mocking any manager who seems to be perfect.

In fact any manager who decides to be Mr/Mrs Fix-It to all and sundry every time, will really struggle under the pressure and do a far worse job, because their people will start to dump problems that they certainly could resolve themselves on that smart manager’s desk.

Letting go of the ‘Fix-Everything’ persona is much more than how you perceive your people will see you in the world.

You see, you WANT to be the big cheese who solves everything. It’s an ego thing. And it’s only going to stand up for a while.

If you are big enough to make this small transition, your people will respect you much more when you are their development guide and show you value them by asking them for their own ideas and solutions.

Stretching, challenging and guiding them gently in much more appropriate and value-creating for your people over time.

Saying ‘I don’t know’ sometimes, is perfect for that and will raise you up in their eyes as long as you use this tool wisely and not every time you have something presented to you.

This is about disciplining yourself, in the moment, and expanding your React/Respond gap.

When you play with that, use delaying tactics and decide if ‘I don’t know’ will work this time, you will have a vital option that will make a much bigger difference to the performance of your people and team, than might have ever been possible before.

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Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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