Saturday, December 27, 2008

Let your staff do the talking!

Let your staff do the talking! - A two-way communication

Don't tell your staff what to do always - Encourage them to think for themselves & come up with great ideas.

Most of the workplaces I noticed seem to have Managers/immediate Superiors telling their workers/employees on the next step/what to do. There is nothing wrong in doing so. However, it will come across as a one-way communication because a general stereo-type perception was developed - that they have better experiences, knowledge in the workplace, so therefore I should listen to them; what position am I to question? When that happens, you restrict innovation. Your workers know the latest trends & developments, the up-to-date technology advancements. They have many more heads than you, as a Manager does. Therefore if you want results, try to pause for a moment; stop telling your employees what to do. Instead, ask them thought-provoking questions. This will work out well, especially for traditional companies, family oriented firms whom are not adaptable to changes.

It gets people thinking themselves about possibilities and, when they come up with their own answers. They are energized & excited about implementing them.

A tremendous amount of brainpower is wasted every day because Managers still think their job is to tell people what to do. But in reality, workers know much more about the work they are doing than the boss does. Being told what to do can actually sap their motivation.

The problem is that even if you as a Manager, has a winning idea, your staff may still be resistant to it because the suggestion came from you. People often question and react negatively to ideas they didn't think of themselves.

On the other hand, when your team members come up with an idea themselves, it creates positive feelings that make them want to take action.

How to make that happen? Let's get started:

1) Get permission. People may be too preoccupied to listen. Schedule a time, ask everyone when they are willing to pay attention

2) Describe the process. Tell people that you are going to ask them questions about what they are doing & make it clear they are expected to do the thinking & come up with their own conclusion

3) Start with the present. For instance: what are you stuck on? How long have you been thinking about this? That will identify the issue and get people focused.

4) Clarify their understanding. E.g. What have you done so far? What alternatives have you identified? Which do you think is the best alternative?

5) Listen carefully & stimulate action. If more than one option is identified, ask further questions to help your staff decide which one to pursue.

The goal is for your team members to conclude: I just decide what I need to do. As it's their idea, they will be committed to take action. If you want to work with people with no hope, you have to look like the solution and not the problem.

Suggest a question such as: "what do you need to do to make this work?" or "what do you want to do next?".

Because the brain is always making new connections, this will encourage the development of new habits & goals.

One thing to note - being questioned may scare people because they fear they are being evaluated on their answers. Hence, it is vital that Managers explain the goals to their team members & stress that they are not being judged.

Some examples of questions Managers can ask to help employees gain problem-solving insights:

(a) How clear is your thinking on this?
This may lead team members to analyze if enough time has been spent thinking about an issue

(b) What would your most desired outcome look like?
This helps to create a mental picture of the goal

(c) How will you know when you have been successful?
This helps people to visualize what completion would look like and how satisfying it would be to do well

(d) How are you going to be accountable for this?
People often make promises they don't really intend to keep. Making a commitment to be accountable strengthens resolve

(e) What would need to happen for this to be an outrageous success?
This question gets people thinking in new ways, opening up possibilities for grander outcomes.

Help your people to think better. Don't tell them what to do next. You will be pleasantly surprised!

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