Stop Telling Your Employees What To Do

Video Transcript:

Hey everyone, this is Michelle at Revela. I’d like to talk with you all regarding the times when you find yourself answering other people’s questions, solving their problems, and telling people what to do. If you go there, or if that’s a common practice of yours, I’d like to challenge you to take a different approach.

In the book Quiet Leadership,” David Rock introduces the concept of Self-Directed Learning, and this is a process which is facilitated. It’s a facilitated discussion that allows the individual to solve their own problems; but we’re allowing them to think. We’re giving them permission to think through it and we are more of that sounding board. He has it outlined as a ladder approach, and the ladder approach has three steps. If you accomplish it on the first step, you’re good to go. Otherwise, let’s move onto the second and then the third.

So if we look at the first step…the first step is providing your employee or team member the opportunity to solve the problem on their own. You’re the sounding board. So, if a person comes to you with, “How do I do that?” or, “What do I do here?” or, “I’m not for sure what happened and what to do next,” ask them some of these questions:

  • How can I help you best?
  • Is this something you want to think through or talk through right now?
  • What have you done so far?
  • What results did you get?
  • What do you think the next step could be?
  • What else could you do?
  • If you did that, what might happen?

If they discover a possible solution that will work, they have had their own “Ah-Ha” moment, and it’s a learning process for them. Then you just simply ask them, “What are you going to commit to moving forward? What are you going to do? What action are you going to take?” So that way, you’re both on the same page.

If they have not had that “Ah-Ha” moment, let’s take it to the second step. The second step is where we guide them to find out whether or not they’ve checked their resources. Have they utilized all of the resources available to them? Resources can be other people that are experts in whatever the area is. They can be documentation, FAQs, or instructions on how to do something. So ask them:

  • What resources have you used so far?
  • Where have you checked?
  • Who have you talked with?
  • What solutions did you get there?

If that haven’t used all of their resources, then let’s ask them to go do that. Tell them to go ahead and check their resources, talk with people, or find documentation. Then come back and let’s talk about how they’re going to solve it.

If they come back and they still don’t know what to do, we want to be able to provide them with a solution that is going to be best received by them. So when we’re thinking about what could be best received by them, it’s getting them to think with an open mind, and staying away from the telling, still. That conversation could look something like, “I probably have some information or ideas that we could walk through. Would you be interested in that?” We want them to want to be part of the solution and to want to hear what you have to say, so let’s ask the question. If they say yes, they want to know your ideas, then go ahead and share them and talk through it. Make sure to ask them, “Leaving here, what can you do as a result of this information? How will you solve the problem now?

The concept really is to help your team members solve their own problems long-term, in addition to building their confidence and helping them have a better understanding of what they do, how to do it, and why they do it.

Your challenge from today’s talk is NOT to answer questions or solve people’s problems. It’s to ask them questions, give them time to think, and have their own “Ah-Ha” moments that help them discover the answer themselves.

Let’s end today with a quote. “Ideas are like children. There are none so wonderful as your own.”


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