It’s not that we don’t like Robots. In fact we love them. Optimus Prime, T-800 (Terminator), Johnny 5, the Brave Little Toaster, that gold guy from Star Wars… they’re are all awesome. But we don’t want to be them.
Yet, in places of work everywhere there’s a host of mad scientists trying feverishly to manufacture legions of replica’s just like them. These managers, bosses, and supervisors don’t know their “wanna be” creations loathe the process they’re involuntarily a part of.
It’s not bad to want to download your knowledge and experience to the team. And it’s probable that the boss was (at some point) good at the job they expect their people to do. So it’s not far fetched to want a team to do what they did, the way they did it, as awesomely as they did it… is it?
In a word, No. It’s not bad at all. We should want our teams to be successful just like us… but not JUST LIKE US. It’s a fine line to walk between loyalty and rebellion and the principles below will help build a winning team and avoid a robot uprising…
When a leader approaches an opportunity to give guidance to an employee deep in the trenches, it makes the most sense to start with curiosity. This means understanding their reality, like what they’re trying to accomplish, what challenges they’re facing and what they’ve already tried. Then (and only then) will a leader be well positioned to provide quality guidance or leave it alone altogether.
Easy Wins First– There’s never a shortage of fires for leaders to put out or get involved in. Especially when a leader has established their own “glory days” as the standard of work. But people may not be struggling as much as assumed. So before a leader can roll up to save the day, and after they consider the above, they should follow this simple rule:
Go where you’re wanted before you go where you think you’re needed.
The truth is if a boss is needed that bad, soon enough they’ll be wanted. Build loyalty and credibility by helping people solve the problems they believe they’re facing. This will earn big credibility points AND the opportunity to help again.
Wrong or Different?– Related to the above, managers have likely been successfu using processes or methods that helped them to be efficient and effective. Processes are usually refined over time as repition turns to proficiency. For someone further along on that journey, those processes can be awfully hard to depart from, or even worse, watch others butcher. But before a manager steps in to autocorrect, they should ask if what’s being done is wrong, or just different. If they understand the work well, they should be able to see around the corner to know if the actions being taken will lead to a quality result. Don’t assume it won’t end well just because it’s different.
Show Don’t Tell– Finally, if a manager simply can’t allow a less-than perfect process to exist, they’ll sit down and show them. They’ll facilitate an experience of success using the defined process. Not only does this prove the point, but it also provides an opportunity for employees to see it can be done. In this way, wisdom doesn’t become some cliche message passed out at the last manager meeting. Showing is the only way to put the best practice debate to bed.
You Are the Future
Tons of employees want to be developed into wildly successful business people. In fact, in today’s work environment it’s expected more than ever before. So leaders, pay attention. Is your team asking for your help, or avoiding it? Are they coming to you with challenges or hiding them? Are they bought in to your leadership, or are they bound by it?
Finally, there are plenty of great, skilled, and thoughtful leaders out there who are building every individual to be their best. If you’re not seeing that from your boss and you have been clear about asking for it… It’s probably time to move on.
Greer Method Complete Coaching provides one on one coaching for executives and business owners. Through expert coaches, habit locking technology, and proven processes we help leaders create, manage, and sustain personal and professional performance.
Jared J. Greer is the founder of Greer Method Complete Coaching. He is an executive coach, 7-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, husband, and father of four.