Ever sat in a meeting where you let the flow of conversation go, not really stepping into the stream of decision-making, waiting for others to make the important calls? I have. It’s easy. But there’s a danger to that…you, and others, can leave a meeting thinking you’ve accomplished something when all you’ve really done is waste your time.
As a team member, it’s easy to let others take the lead. As a leader, it’s easy to do things your way. How do you strike a balance, ensuring others know what they need to do without usurping their natural problem-solving ability and initiative?
Temptation: I gave that person a job last week, and I have yet to see any substantive progress. Maybe I should take the job over, show them what really needs to be done.
Problem: I’d rather do the job myself than have a crucial confrontation about why the person is or isn’t making progress. And, of course, I have to ask myself what measurable objectives did I set or agree on with the person that aren’t being met; if i didn’t set any, then the lack of progress is my fault as a leader.
Solution: Have the conversation to assess progress, set measurable objectives, and accept responsibility for doing that. Then, let them get the work done rather than stepping in and taking over.
How do you handle these kind of situations, whether as a supervisor or employee responsible for getting the job done?
As an employee, the question of What do you expect me to do by when? may serve as the flip side of the question every supervisor should ask before a meeting ends, Who will do what by when? It allows you as the employee to gain insights into what is expected.
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