(1) ObservationCould the person who is struggling have a period of observation over you or another colleague that would help them get to grips with a particular skill or working style? Social learning theory and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) both evidence the fact that as humans, we learn well by watching others do something and then taking what we need from that observation to use in our own lives. In an organisational context, where you have access to a team of people with a wide range of abilities and skills, this can be a particularly helpful approach.
Through necessity, most SME owners learn the art of thriftiness, making small cost savings that, collectively, make a big difference to profit margins. But few apply that technique to their time management, even though we all agree that time is money.
(2) StorytellingInstead of demonstrating or offering advice as a manager on how to get around a problem, try telling them a story about a person you have known and seen go through a similar issue, and how they resolved it. Don’t tell a story that is identical to the one in question, otherwise it again undermines the person’s ability to draw their own conclusions. By offering your experience like this, it allows the person to consider the story for themselves, and take what they feel they need from it, and use it in a way that feels right to them. This method also helps to build rapport and strengthen professional relationships.
(3) MultichoiceIf a person has directly asked for your advice, or you cannot think of another way to approach a situation than to give advice as a manager, then try giving the person three options to choose from. This enables you to offer support and help to colleagues, but still requires that they give it consideration and decide on which solution they feel will be the most efficient or best suited to their working style. By handing at least part of the challenge back to them, it helps to build their character and allows them to take responsibility.
Manage emotionsOf course, insisting that a person solve their own problems is not the appropriate response in 100 per cent of cases, and if a person is particularly emotional, feeling angry, frustrated or any other form of negativity, it is important that you take immediate action to regulate this. In a highly emotional state, any of the above solutions could be seen as rejection and often aggravates the situation. As a manager, your colleagues’ emotional and mental wellbeing should be a priority. No problem will be resolved if a person feels overwhelmed, so first take steps to support them personally and defuse the situation before moving on to solving the problem at hand. Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training and are co-authors of Real Leaders for the Real World; The Essential Traits of Successful and Authentic Leaders (£12.99), which has received 5-star reviews and was awarded finalist in the International Book Awards.
While you can learn a lot from your own mistakes, it also helps to take note of others’ errors. According to STL, US president Donald Trump’s management style is the epitome of what not to do.
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