Give the gift of experience… You and your employees will be happier!

The next time one of your employees comes to you with a question or a problem, resist the easiest (and most automatic) reaction: To give the answer or jump in and take care of the problem. You (and they) know that you can do it faster and better, however that’s short-term thinking which can be costly in the long run
Granted, the quick answer or immediate action is needed at times. Often, however it is not. Providing that quick answer or jumping in to help can delay the accumulation of the very experience that your employees need in order to grow and take on more responsibility.
Here are a couple of methods that I use and recommend to my clients:

  1. The “Just put it off” method. When someone comes to you with a problem that is not critical, tell them that you don’t have time to get into it now and that you will need to discuss it later in the day/tomorrow. When you do follow up, you will be amazed at how often they end up having figured it out on their own.
  2. The “Make ’em think first” method: Anyone coming to you with a problem must also bring potential solutions (or suggested approaches to get to a solution). For this to work, they need to be confident that they won’t be ridiculed for naive or unworkable ideas. This can create a very teachable moment where you find out how your employees think and where there are gaps in training or resources. You may also be surprised by some some great ideas that you hadn’t thought of before.

In spite of the short term ‘pain’ of dealing with another person’s learning curve it is definitely worth the effort. You end up with more capable and confident employees as well as more time for you to focus on strategic initiatives, new opportunities – or maybe getting home in time for dinner with your family…

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