“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.” George Bernard Shaw – Irish Playwright, 1856-1950. Some managers believe that they have good reason to agree. Even when they try to help employees, results don’t turn out as expected. Four little words that we’re designed to help, can have unexpected consequences.
You see an employee struggling to get something right: operate a machine correctly, run a software program successfully, recalculate some figures or even move some furniture. With help in your heart and efficiency in your head you say, “Let me do that”. And they do. The difficult task is completed satisfactorily. Everyone’s satisfied… or so you think.
What’s Been Learned
The employee’s learned that you’re a helpful even compassionate manager. They’ve also learned, hopefully, what to do next time. And they’ve learned that you can be relied upon to support them. But they haven’t learned how to do the job. They may have learned that next time they’re having trouble getting something done they can call on you for assistance even before they’ve run into trouble.Feel free to visit their website at alleviating stress for staff improves their performance for more details.
You want to help your employees do well. “Let me do that” is positive and helpful. It gets the job done. That’s good. But what about next time? It sounds harsh to say so but you’re doing the job you pay the employee to do. You’re creating an expectation that, the moment a problem occurs, the employee doesn’t need to work out how to fix it. Is that what you want?
Four Different Little Words
Offering to help is commendable. Continue to do it if you’re that way inclined. But change the words and the actions. Say, “Let me show you”, followed by “Now, you do it” and after they’ve demonstrated that they can do it properly say, four more little words, “Good, you’ve got it”.
On Job Training In Action
Simple, fast, specific, precise: they’re four little words to describe the process you’ve followed when you say, “Let me show you” instead of “Let me do that”. And you’ve still been able to show your skill. Everyone does win this time.
If the employee’s finding the task too difficult, you’ll see it yourself. You can teach the employee the “right and safe way” without cutting corners. You can reinforce performance standards as you demonstrate. And you can show that while you expect employees to seek help when they really need it, you expect them to work most things out by themselves or with the help of workmates. You’ll also improve the employee’s self esteem.
A Timely Reminder
Employees want to be competent to do their jobs satisfactorily. They want you to have trust in their competence. Anything that you can do as a manager to reinforce their self-esteem is a bonus. As their self esteem rises, so will their confidence to try apparently “difficult” tasks.
You’re paid to “manage”, employees are paid to “operate”. In a small-medium business managers will need to do some operational work. But the sooner your staff are fully competent the sooner you’ll have more time to manage. A “Let me show you” approach benfits the manager more than the employee.
Getting real payoff from being helpful is still a matter of using four little words: different words followed by two more four little word phrases. It doesn’t seem much. But successful employee management is so often a question of finding and applying simple phrases.