(Post 3 in a series)

In the last post, I said that growth-oriented business owners respond to questions from their employees differently than the “One Man Band” (or woman) sort of business owner.

Get something to write this down with. Are you ready?

(Janie/Johnnie come to you because something went off the rails at work; a client wants something; the material ordered is late; the toilet is backed up, etc)

“Boss, (the thing) happened and it’s quite a mess. I’m not sure what to do. It’s gonna be a real problem if such-and-such doesn’t happen soon.”

Now take a minute and think about what your normal response would be here. Would it be to start walking to the scene of the crime and peppering the employee with questions about How?, What?, Where?, When?, Why? etc.

Consider something different. Instead of acting like Superman, let’s ask this question:

“OK, I think I understand. What do you think we should do about that?”

Watch their facial expressions, it’s fun. You have just hit the ball back over the net with the leadership technique I call the “Bounce-Back.”

The employee has run into a problem that they don’t know how to handle or they simply don’t want to handle. Either way, we are going to start building the capacity of our company by enlarging the capacity of our individual employees.

Think of it like a game of Ping-Pong. You need to bounce the ball back to your employee.

Listen to them. Encourage their answers and steer them towards a good one by saying things like, “OK, that would fix that part of it, but what else might need to be done after you do that?” Help them round out the steps they might need to completely address the issue.

Give them credit. Sincerely tell them, “That’s good thinking and I believe it will work. If you need some more help, you can call me but I bet you can handle this one on your own. Let’s talk after the dust settles and see how it went. Good job and thanks!”

Follow up because this is a very important training process. You are showing them how to problem solve and you can give pointers for next time.

This is also a time for praise. Tell them and tell others once the situation is resolved how well they did and how great it is to have someone like them on the team. You will get extra mileage with the rest of the team as they see you rewarding someone for handling things. They will think, “What can I do to handle the problems that come up in my day?”

Communication is important in unusual situations. You don’t want everyone in your company winging it. You can point to your Vision Statement in a group setting and explain to your staff why this solution made sense as it aligned with your clearly communicated standards. You were made aware of it and in the follow-up/post-mortem, everything got addressed.

Other articles related to this series:

  1.  7 Gears of Delegation
  2. Delegation Develops Skills

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