“The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 10:8 ESV)
Helping people reach their own conclusions fosters collaboration, promotes respect, and decreases stress. Of course, tasks and responsibilities must be performed well. Employers and managers must clearly articulate goals, objectives and how others should be treated.
However, an employee often has insights into day-to-day successes and challenges which their employer or manager does not. In addition, there are different ways a job can be done, with its own risks and benefits that employees can draw their own conclusions about.
Just as the employee has information on how to best reach goals, objectives, and make a decision, so does the employer. The best outcome occurs with sharing these insights and an openness to consider other choices and conclusions. How do you think you are doing in this area?
How would your team answer the following five questions about you?
1. Do you clearly articulate work expectations?
2. Do you allow your team to draw their own conclusions?
3. Does your team feel comfortable coming to you to report problems?
4. Does your team come up with solutions, or do they wait for you to solve the problems?
5. Do you spend more time giving solutions and answers or asking your team questions about the situation and helping them come to conclusions?
During COVID, physiotherapists needed to wear a surgical mask and a face shield. When some of the mask mandates were lifted, they commented that they did not want to wear a shield any longer, just the surgical masks. It was understandable. We were all tired of them. Instead of telling them what to do, I gave them the information on what Public Health advised and said it was their individual choice. If a patient contacted them the next day to say they had COVID and they were not wearing a face shield, they could not work for two weeks. If they were wearing a mask and shield, they did not need to be quarantined. I asked each Physiotherapist to decide what they wanted to do. They all chose to continue with the face shield. If I had made that decision for them, there would have been some resentment during an already difficult time. Although no one wanted to continue wearing a face shield, they each concluded it was in their best interests to keep doing so.
People want to figure things out for themselves. Policies and procedures provide information on what needs to be done and how. However, every business needs to have a Quality Improvement Approach of working together to improve operations. People “on the front lines” often see where things can be improved. It is essential to listen to them. It is also vital if you see an area which could improve to have a discussion. It should not be a “let me tell you what to do” but a series of questions asking them what they perceive as problems and what they feel can be done to improve.
The next time you see an issue at work which is not going well, schedule a meeting with your employee/team. Instead of asking them “why” (which can lead to defensiveness), ask them “what” they think the problem is and “what” they believe can be done to improve it. This way, you show respect, promote collaboration, and work together to arrive at the best solutions.
Taking This to God in Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me to understand I do not have all the answers. Help me to foster a high level of communication in my business to promote open and respectful dialogue, so everyone knows their input is needed and valued. Please help all my team understand that we all have roles and responsibilities, and our workplace flourishes when everyone is committed to arriving at conclusions together. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Have a great week as you consider if you are assisting your team in arriving at their own conclusions.
Bonny, Christian Women at Work