This past weekend I had the opportunity to give a presentation that shares a few tips about leading turnarounds at Product Camp Seattle. We had a good interchange of ideas and experiences, and one of the tips that generated a good deal of conversation was:
“Empower and require people to fix problems. They usually do fine and you can’t do it all alone.”
Every business has issues to fix and opportunities to explore. If your team is bringing the issues and opportunities to you for a decision about what to act on and how to do it, they aren’t empowered and you’re being a bottleneck…even if that’s not what you intended to do.
The next time someone brings a suggestion to you try one of these two responses:
“I am glad to see you are thinking about how to be even more awesome at what you do. Since this is your area, and you know how it works better than me, just do whatever you think needs to be done. If you hit any road blocks or want to talk something through let me know and I will be happy to help. Oh, and once the change is in place please let me know how it’s working so I can be sure to let people know about the brilliant team we have here.”
“I am sorry to hear that we are having a problem with _________. If you know who to work with, why don’t you two sit down and see what needs to be done? If you don’t know who to work with, just contact Jayne and she will put you in touch with the right person on her team. If you hit any road blocks or want to talk something through let me know and I will be happy to help. Oh, and once the change is in place please let me know how it’s working so I can be sure to let people know about the brilliant team we have here.”
(Note: if this type of thing is not common in your company, contact Jayne first so she knows to expect a call and that you are in support of employee collaboration)
In both cases you are showing that:
- You’re supportive of their efforts to improve
- You trust them to do the right thing without adult supervision
- You’re not disinterested, you want to know how things turn out
- You want to give them the credit
- They are expected to improve, not just operate
- You are more interested in progress than personal power
If you are a theory X manager, this is going to be tough to do, but give it a try…your team will do amazing things!
As a side note, this was my first Product Camp and I highly recommend attending if you have one in your town. Here is a link to find (or start) a product camp in your area.
You can find me on twitter at @jackson_matt and find more operationally focused blog posts at jacksonconsulting.biz/blog
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