The Answer is in the Room
A basic premise of all of our work is that whatever the issue or challenge, there is already an answer available ‘in the room’ – within your own people. Even more basic than that, what it takes to fully take advantage of the answers available through your people is the realization that the answer is in the room - whichever room you are in.
As a leader, your mindset; how you approach and look at the issue or challenge, will have the greatest impact on the quality of answers available to you.
The example below demonstrates how quickly the power of asking the right questions can impact an outcome. In this case, I asked the questions but with AMP (awareness, mindfulness and presence) and some practice, we as leaders can begin to ask ourselves the questions.
Two co-directors of a project team were struggling. The project was behind and their stress level was increasing rapidly.
I asked, “What one thing would be most helpful in allowing you to complete the project in the quickest amount of time, with the least amount of stress?
They had the answer in a heartbeat – “Delegation!”
“What about delegation?” I queried.
With looks exchanging between the two of them, one said, “We don’t have anyone we can delegate to. We are doing most of the work ourselves.”
“Help me understand, why don’t you have anyone you can delegate to?” I asked.
With a wave of the arm toward the team outside their office, Barbara said, “There’s no one out there we can trust.”
“Define ‘trust’?” I continued.
“Trust means that there’s nobody that we can count on to get what needs to be done as well as we can do it ourselves. So, we have to do it ourselves.” All of this was said with frequent glances back and forth between each other in agreement.
“You’re telling me that on your entire team there isn’t one person you can trust?”
Again they exchanged glances, and then in unison said, “Well, David”.
“What about David?”
From John, “David is the one person we can give anything to and he’ll get it done well.”
“Was that always true, did you always trust David?”
“What changed?” I asked.
“We got in a real bind one day, had something that really needed to get done and decided we’d give it to David.” John replied
“He did it well. We’ve given him other things to do and he’s done them all well.”
I asked what the benefit would be if they each had two or three more people that they could count on as much as they did David?
A few days later, I called to ask what improvements they’d experienced. They were amazed at how much more free time they had to perform their own roles. They went on to share how surprised they were at how many of their people could actually do what needed to be done and do it well.
The distinction, they shared, was that their expectation had changed from there being no one to which they could delegate to knowing that most of their people had specific skills that allowed them to successfully complete specific tasks. And to their surprise, the more individuals they 'trusted' with delegation, the more they found they could be trusted.
What would your own answers be to these same questions?
How many of your people are capable of more than you currently think they can do?
What are a couple of smaller projects/tasks you can give to a few of them?
What did you learn from the experience?
What will be the benefits for you?
A few techniques that have proven helpful in delegating:
Be specific on the outcome desired through the task.
Give clear directions.
Have the person delegated to repeat back their understanding of what they've been asked to do.
Check in on progress.
We let him know how pleased we were with a job well done."