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This week’s focus:

Let them do the thinking!

It happens all the time! Picture the scene: One of your people knocks on your non-existent open-plan door (okay, maybe you are lucky enough to have the corner office!) and asks if they can ask you a question. Being your normal supportive and helpful self, you say of course. They ask you the question. You give your answer. They ride off into the sunset of the office. You feel quite pleased with yourself.

So, I am curious:

  • Next time they have a query, will they bother to answer it themselves?
  • How many times a day does someone approach you in this way?
  • If several people interrupt you daily in this way, when do you get to do your work?
  • How often, perhaps weeks later, do you see them doing what they’ve always done, or something else, anyway?
  • Who learnt more from this little exercise, you or them?
  • Who should be learning more in these circumstances?

My hypothesis is that our job as manager, at any level, is primarily to manage / maximise the performance of our people and to develop them to be able to achieve this, not only currently but in years to come. Each year their targets are ratcheted up and sooner or later they can’t get by with more of the same thinking and / or doing! At some stage, they are going to have to learn to think, and think differently.

This week think about how you can let your people do the thinking. Explore different ways of achieving this and, please, get beyond merely saying, “what do you think?” Don’t focus on the content of what they are saying – focus on the thinking that causes them to say what they are saying. Try to elevate that thinking beyond the level of thinking that caused the problem. In other words, help them to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.

Monday Perspective: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

– Albert Einstein

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