Ever noticed that what you think about, you get more of? Worried you won’t find a parking spot in time to get to your appointment. Sure enough, you arrive late. You were right.
Concerned that you can’t trust your staff to take over some of your key responsibilities? You tried it once and it ‘blew up in your face’. You were right.
Irritated that the same problems keep making the rounds and no one seems to fix them once and for all. So you take back decision making because obviously you can’t trust your people to ‘get with the program’. Evidence keeps telling you, you are right.
In our line of work, we see these mindsets trip up the most successful business people. Everyone is problem obsessed. They watch the people around them looking for evidence they are about to mess up. And then when the mess is presented, the boss can feel smug in being right in the prediction. It’s satisfying in the moment, but oh so destructive to the bottom line, productivity, performance, company culture and the ability of a management team to grow or even make the company attractive to the next owner or buyer.
What’s at the heart of these “Evidence Gathering” mindsets?
- I’M RIGHT! Our tendency is to ‘guess’ what’s really going on and go with our assumptions rather than finding out by asking questions what truly is going on. Guessing feeds right in to the self-satisfying energy boosting insatiable need to demonstrate to others how right we are.
- I DON’T WANT THIS. Talking about what we don’t want rather than explicitly describing what we do want. We are not practiced in describing our ‘desired end result’.
- GET IT DONE NOW. Believing that doing something ourselves will be faster rather than mentoring someone properly to deliver the explicit desired end result.
There is a big cost in maintaining these habit patterns. Want to break them so you have people you can trust, who know how to deliver your desired end result so you can see evidence of that?
THREE BREAKTHROUGH MINDSETS
1. BREAK THE ASSUMPTION HABIT.
For the next week, every time you want to assume you already know what the answer is as to why something is the way it is, stop. Then ask yourself, who would know the story behind this situation.
Go ask good probing questions of all the people who can shed light, not blame. You want to get clear on the issue, not hear a litany of ‘he said, she said’. Probing question? Ask ‘what’ or ‘how’ questions, not ‘why’ questions. Johnny will never be able to explain ‘why he spilt the milk’. “Tell me more about what is contributing to this problem” will get you far closer to the truth.
2. BALANCED PERSPECTIVE.
If you want action, then describe what it is you do want. And I don’t mean “I want this fixed by the end of the day.” Stating your desired end result is not the flip side of the negative. Ask yourself “what would we be able to do then that we can’t do now if we had solved this problem.”
Here is an example: “We would be able to understand what our customers really want when they call and resolve the problem for them rather than forwarding them through five different people.”
3. DELEGATE RESPONSIBLY
Learning to delegate is a journey, not a one time experiment. The more you do it, the better you will become at packaging your projects so they can be handed off and mentoring your people so they understand what you really want, not what you don’t want.
Don’t want to be a micro-manager? Then think about how you would like to be told how to do something for the first time. Set up your people for success, not failure.