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“Let me show you how it’s done!”

My Dad was a “Let me show you how its done” kind of guy. He would have a list of things we had to do: plant trees, fix screens, pick weeds, grease the attic stairs. We would get up early on a Saturday morning, ready to get our chores done. Yes, we were excited to them! (Most days). We would meet him out in the backyard and wait for our instructions. And we’d get started… we’d pick up a tool, or start digging, and then we would hear it: “Let me show you how its done!”

Then our sprits would fade and we would end up standing there watching Dad do the work for the next hour. We were reduced to holding the hose or flashlight, standing on the edge of the action. Never really learning what ever the chore actually was going to teach us.

Why do I tell this story? Well, this habit extends to the office a LOT! Leaders and Managers tend to be the “Let me show you how its done” kind.

Our teams need us to lead them and manage the systems and processes that they support. However, we tend to take on more than that. When they come to us for help, guidance, and advice, we tend to look at that as a cry for the answer. Instead of guiding them, we end up giving answers and doing the task. It is easier. It is quicker.

But what does that do for your team?

If we are the ones leading, managing and doing the work… we are the problem. We have teams who want to WIN. They want to be successful. They want to truly learn how to do what we’ve hired them to do. They want to master the skill and be better.

If we are the ones doing it all, what does that do for you team? Does it reduce them to paper pushers, or task masters?

How do we break “Let me show you how its done” cycle?

  1. Ask more questions than you make statements? How do you think we should do this? What path would you take? Why? Tell me what your experience tells you to do?

  2. Focus on the Finished Product, not the path to get there. When I set Rocks with my Teams we focus on “What Does Done Look Like?”! With the end in mind, the team is empowered to build a successful plan to achieve it. Then they work the plan and seek help when they feel they need it.

  3. Have a regular meeting cadence with your team. This will ensure they always have a way to bring their issues and concerns about what they are working on.

  4. Document your way of doing things. Systemize your business so that “the way” to do things is referenceable, always. NASA has their procedures documented and within arm’s reach. You should too!

  5. Use a Scorecard to “Trust by Verify”. Your processes and procedures have measurable behaviors in them. Use those to make sure the team is meeting the process so you don’t have to micro manage.

  6. Make sure you have the Right People sitting in the Right Seats. If you don’t have a team who has the ability and desire to do the job you are asking them to, you will end up having to do all the work.

We want our teams to be the best. Doing the work for them isn’t the way. Let them strengthen their skills and abilities by allowing them to learn and grow. Yes, it will take a little more time. And yes, it will be stressful for you in the beginning. But ultimately, you’ll have a team who will excel in all areas.


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