Sshh! Mastering the art of getting out of your people’s way seems to be one of the best-kept secrets in business. I mean as managers it takes a leap of faith to allow your people the freedom to get on with it.
The truth is that treating your people with respect and trusting them to do the right thing will reap real rewards. Your performance will increase, significantly. Your engagement scores will rise, your attrition will fall, compliance will improve.
The way we are managed and led continually fails us, the need to report, to know what is going on, the fear of being caught out and exposed by colleagues drives manager behaviours to be more over bearing.
Dan Pink in his book, Drive, talks about the science behind motivation; where a role requires a more cognitive approach than traditional carrot and stick approach, the latter fails consistently.
Exploiting these three fundamental principles will reap tremendous benefits.
It is highly likely your people understand the direction of travel; it is even more likely that they know what the key issues are along the way, what they want is for you to get our of their way and let them get on with it.
Allow them to decide how they will get there and you will see a level of engagement, creativity and problem solving that will amaze you. We see this all the time in our workshops; our clients are continually blown away by their people, they willingly take on business challenges over and above their day job and come back with remarkable results.
We like to get better at stuff, we enjoy taking on challenges and making a contribution, and we don’t always want rewarding for it! Counter-intuitive right? Not if you look at examples like Wikipedia, built on free contributions, developers give their time for free to improve open source software for the betterment of the user base. What if, your people could choose the skills they want to develop and focus that time on improving your business. Win-win? I think so.
Your best people are attracted to more than just the money; they want to feel that their work has meaning. Your purpose, provided it is meaningful is fundamental to engaging your people, this is the north star, this is the guide for both autonomy and mastery. If I connect with the purpose and I am allowed to apply myself I will give more than just what you expect; I will excite you with my passion and energy. Why; because you treat me like I am a person and not a machine, just designed to shift a widget!
Getting out your people’s way makes sense commercially and scientifically, so why not give it a go.
Don’t take my word for it; Dan Pink says it far more eloquently than me in his book Drive and this short YouTube clip