There are few things that are more annoying & frustrating than continually telling a team member (or many!) how to do something … only to have them repeat the same mistakes over, and over and over again!
It expends valuable energy and does little for your morale (or anyone else’s for that matter) as you spend time correcting mistakes made!
“Insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
They keep making the same mistakes, you keep addressing it the same way?
Are you both insane or is there an better way around this challenge of leadership?
And let’s be honest, this is a difficult challenge, particularly when the person you’re dealing with is good at some other aspects of their job.
Having a conversation is always a good place to start but it’s also the place where most leaders fail.
As leaders, we often take on the role of mentor, manager and fountain of knowledge on all things job related!
We can be really skilled at “telling” people what to do but therein lies the key.
Do you like being told what to do?
You’re not alone!
For many of us, it reminds us of school or being given out to by a parent so is it any wonder that “telling’ yields varying results.
“Tell me, I forget. Teach me, I may remember. Involve me and I learn”
Rather than doing what you’ve always done, take a different approach.
Asking is the new telling!
Instead of telling, ask. Then listen to the answer to your question.
The added advantage of this is that it saves you valuable energy as you “transfer the responsibility” over to the other person. After all, it is their job, their task and they are responsible for their continuous improvement, not you!
It also gives them the opportunity to talk through what’s happening so you can see things from their perspective and you get an insight into their thought process while helping them tease out what’s going on allowing clarity in their own minds.
This often leads people come to their own conclusion without being told.
We all like to be listened to.
Good leaders listen.
The conversation might sound like this:
(Do they recognise the error?)
What do you think caused the error to happen?
(Don’t ask “why” as it can incite a feeling of attack/defence, instead choose “what”. It also had the added advantage of being an open question so you re avoiding a yes/no scenario). The answer to this question might lead you to ask more questions (variations might be “what was behind your thinking there?” “what led you to that conclusion?” “what made you choose that over an alternative way”. It’s like mining for gold, stick with it until you get a full and complete understanding of the situation.
How could you avoid this next time?
(Allow the person to come up with their own solutions… we work best with our own thought processes and are more likely to take action!)
What support do you need to help you get it right next time?
They may need extra training, some help from you or just some good old fashioned encouragement!
Your silence is golden in this conversation and as tempting as it is to jump in, interrupt, offer advice, please don’t as this is completely counter productive.
Perhaps the greatest achievement from approaching the scenario in this way is that your team member sees that you are willing to approach things differently.
This is exactly the type of behaviour you want to be role modelling as a leader!
What’s more, you’re bringing in a valuable skillset to your leadership in addition to mentorship which is coaching.
The more you practice it, the better you get and the great news is, you can start right now in the every day conversations with your team!