A manager who has the tendency to put his oar in his employees’ ideas ends up killing their ownership of ideas. This diminishes their motivation and performance.
When employees feel disrespected or unappreciated, survival instincts will kick in—employees turn inward and stop participating fully in their teams. It will only erode their commitment and led to poor results.
People Tend to Reject Ideas Offered by Others in Favor of Their Own
In the bestselling What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (2007,) the celebrated leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith describes this behavior as the tendency to “add too much value.”
If you’re inclined to get wrapped up in adding your two cents and improving the quality of an idea a little, you may devalue an employee’s commitment to execute the idea:
Imagine an energetic, enthusiastic employee comes into your office with an idea. She excitedly shares the idea with you. You think it’s a great idea. Instead of saying, “Great idea!” you say, “That’s a nice idea. Why don’t you add this to it?” What does this do? It deflates her enthusiasm; it dampers her commitment. While the quality of the idea may go up 5 percent, her commitment to execute it may go down 50 percent. That’s because it’s no longer her idea, it’s now your idea.
Effective Coaching is Helping Others Discover Insights
Focus on helping others discover insights—not by solving the problem for them, but by helping them improve how they’re thinking about the problem.
- If you have an idea that the other must hear, don’t tell them immediately. Use Socratic questioning to tease the idea out of them.
- Examine how you hand out ideas. Resist the temptation to add your advice. Before you propose an idea, pause and ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
- Avoid declarative statements such as “you should …” or “I think … .”
- The higher up you go in an organization, the more your suggestions become interpreted as orders.
- Don’t marginalize the concerns of your team members in the interest of moving your ideas forward. Ignoring employees’ inputs can send a message to the entire team that you’re not actually looking for their creative ideas, but that you’ve got your own agenda and just want them to rubberstamp it.
- Get your team involved early. People are more motivated to do the things they have to do if they are part of the planning and strategy.
Idea for Impact: Improve your team performance by encouraging better thinking, not by handing out advice.
Don’t give unsolicited advice. Don’t make team decisions to which you—but nobody else—is committed. Learn to persuade others to see things your way by tapping into their talents, passions, and abilities.
Remember, being an effective manager is not about winning yourself; it’s about making other people winners.
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