Have you ever noticed when you are away for a day or two, or even a few hours, your team seem to be able to solve their own problems? Having to deal with every question or every problem your staff face can be draining for you and does little to develop your team.
A couple of week’s ago I wrote about using the GROW model, which can be used to great effect to tap into people’s potential when solving problems or improving performance. It is based on the principle that the coach (the line manager) asks questions and draws the answer from the employee. This leads to increased awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it, better buy in and commitment, increases confidence and good development.
But it’s not appropriate for every situation. So when can you use this approach, and when do you need a more direct approach?
There are 2 key considerations
The situation and the person
A directive approach will be more appropriate when:
- It calls for speed
- There’s no opportunity for risk
- There’s no debate as all the decisions have been made
- When you need to retain full control
- When the person has neither the capability or willingness to resolve the problem themselves
However bear in mind that this approach
- Limits potential
- Limits innovation
- Assumes you are right
- Adds potential for error
- Gives no ownership or responsibility
- Does not develop people
- Can add a fear factor
A non directive approach conversely:
- Develops people assuming they have the basic experience or knowledge to build on
- Gives them ownership
- Helps with problem solving as it generates more than one solution
- It gives a sense of achievement
- It builds people’s confidence if they come up with their own solutions
- Takes the pressure off you in the long term as people get used to coming up with solutions
- Doesn’t need you to always 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 employee has the appropriate skills, experience or knowledge to work things out for themselves (even if they don’t have the willingness to do so)
- There is some degree of flexibility in the way something can be approached (even if the end result is not negotiable, such as legal requirments or demanding targets)
- It is not time critical and provides some time for the employee to think or talk it through
Most often speed is given as a reason not to use a non directive appraoch.
“We need to make a decision on this now; we can’t keep the customer waiting while we sit and discuss it.“
In this instance use a non directive approach initially, then go back after the event and discuss with the employee what they would do in similar circumstances to resolve the problem.
Clearly if you are someone’s line manager they will have an expectation to get guidance from you on how they should do their job, but to get their buy in and to develop them put some of the onus on them to come up with their own ideas and solutions as often as possible.
Coaching skills will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme which is being launched in September.