Monthly Archives: October 2021

A non directive approach

non directive

Does your team need your direction all the time, or do you adopt a non directive approach?

Have you ever noticed how those people who constantly look to you to solve the slightest problem or to make the easiest of decisions, seem to manage fine when you are away for a day or two, or even a few hours?

Having to deal with every question or every problem your team face can be draining for you and does little to develop your team.

If you’ve always been quick to resolve problems for them it’s all too easy for this to become the accepted norm. But doing this denies team members of the opportunity to think for themselves. By turning things around and getting them to come up with their own solutions leads to an increased awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it, better buy in and commitment to the solution, increases their confidence and is good for their development.

Of course this approach may not be possible or appropriate in every situation. So when is a more direct response needed opposed to asking them to solve their own problem or question?

A more directive approach may be more appropriate when:

  • It calls for speed
  • It’s a high risk situation
  • When you need to retain full control
  • There’s no debate as it’s a policy or legal decision has already been made
  • When the person isn’t yet capable or had sufficient experience, and asking them may make them feel vulnerable

The downside of being very directive

  • Limits people’s potential
  • Restricts innovation and fresh approaches
  • Gives no ownership or responsibility
  • Provides no opportunity for development and can even make people ‘lazy’ if you always solve their questions
  • It assumes you are right!

A non directive approach has the following benefits

  • Develops people assuming they have the basic experience or knowledge to build on
  • Gives them ownership
  • Helps with problem solving as it can generate more than one solution
  • Allows for continuous improvement as they might find a better way of approaching the situation
  • Gives a sense of achievement
  • Builds confidence when team members come up with their own solutions
  • Takes the pressure off you in the long term as people get used to coming up with their own solutions
  • Means you don’t always need to know the answer!

So the following situations might lend themselves to a non directive approach

  • There is reduced risk, or at least an opportunity to monitor or correct things before putting anything at risk
  • The team member has the appropriate skills, experience or knowledge to work things out for themselves (even if they don’t have the willingness to do so)
  • When there’s a degree of flexibility in the way something can be approached (even if the end result is not negotiable, such as legal requirements or demanding targets)
  • It’s not time critical and provides some time for the team member to think or talk it through

What if the customer is waiting?

Most often speed is given as a reason not to use a non directive approach.  “We can’t keep the customer waiting while I coach them. I’ll have to spell out what they should do.” Or you end up taking over completely and dealing with it yourself.

In this instance use a directive approach initially, then go back afterwards to review with the team member what you told them to do (or how you handled it), and why, and what they could do in similar circumstances to resolve the issue for themselves.

As a line manager team members will still need direction and guidance from you, but to develop them, get their buy in and improve productivity put some of the onus on them to come up with their own ideas and solutions as often as possible. It won’t happen over night, but if you always encourage them to come up with their own answers they’ll soon get used to it.

Action

If you only do one thing – the next time someone comes and asks for you for guidance or has a question turn it back on them and ask “what do you think?”

Related articles: Using the GROW model

Related video: The power of Questions


How to change your team members’ moods

I’m sure from time to time even your most outgoing team members have their off days – those times when they are down, flustered, bored, angry or frustrated.

And of course, this impacts their colleagues.

And your customers.

Most people believe they can’t change their moods, but here are 4 things (including an exercise you can do with your team as part of your customer service training) you can do with your team to influence their moods, so they are more productive and engaged with their job and engaged with servicing your customers well.

Action point

If you only do one thing as a result of watching this, help your team members identify when they are in an unresourceful state and how to change this.



How to get employee buy in

how to get buy in

Getting employee buy in

I’m sure that at some point in your career you’ve been told to get on with a task with no idea why you should do it and therefore either carried out the task, but to the minimum standard, or worse still simply avoided it altogether.

Last week on a management workshop I was running, we discussed how we get people to buy-in to a task, so people do the task willingly, enthusiastically, and even with a degree of pride.

At the very least to get buy in and for team members to do anything with any degree of commitment they need to understand the reasons why – why does it need doing in the first place and why them. Identify reasons or benefits that are personal to them, not just how it helps the business.

Better still ask for their input in what needs to be done or in the way it has to be done. You might be thinking “well if it is a new law or company policy it won’t be open to discussion”. True, what has to be achieved may not be open to discussion, but the way it is achieved might well be.

Let’s say you have a new piece of health and safety legislation to introduce. It’s the law, so it is not negotiable.  But because it is the law, all the more reason why you can’t have people deciding to ignore it. You need that buy in. Threats might work, but not very effectively.

What is negotiable is the way it can be achieved. By asking for people’s ideas, recognising their experience and knowing the work better than anyone, they will often come up with the best way to implement something that on the face of it is just extra workload. The greater the level of involvement in the process and decision-making; the greater the level of buy in.

And if they come away thinking it was their idea, the more likely you are to see it done with some degree of enthusiasm, commitment or pride.

Gaining buy-in Video from the A-Z of managing people

Measuring employee engagement


Systems in Management

Systems in management

Systems to help not hinder

How often have we heard the phrase “I’m sorry, the system won’t allow me to do that.”?

Do you have any systems in place which make life difficult for your team members?

Having the right systems, procedures and checklists in place provides consistency, avoids people having to reinvent the wheel, and minimises errors.

However, poor systems can be not only frustrating for team members, but also impact productivity, the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line.

Here are a few to look out for:

  • No system in place for routine tasks so staff reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks.
  • Not fully understood, so not followed
  • Over complicated or cumbersome
  • Too much red tape or to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down
  • Unworkable due to lack of time, right equipment, tools, or products

Any of these inevitably puts extra pressure on your team, particularly when there is a direct impact on customers… They are there to support the team, not create red tape, or stifle personality, initiative and good ideas.

Indications that a system needs reviewing include:

  • Team members failing to deliver the job on time
  • When team members frequently struggle, ask for help make mistakes
  • Top causes of customer complaints

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So, check the systems and processes you have in place are still doing the job they were designed to do.

If you only do one thing:

Ask your team for their observations and feedback on existing systems and how the system can be improved.

Systems in management Video

I can’t do that