The higher you grow in the organization, the more you work in sound bites. You have so much information coming at you, you need to process it quickly, and draw conclusions. As a manager, you train your team to give you the highlights in bullet points. Swimming in too much information will bog you down.
And yet, sometimes the devil does lurk in the details.
“It’s entirely possible that you can process and file more information than anyone who has come before you. And quite likely that this filing is preventing you from growing and changing and confronting the fear that’s holding you back.”~Seth Godin, “I Get It“
How do you get the information you really need?
It’s so easy to assume you’ve seen this movie before and miss the plot twist.
Be careful not to assume
- you know the type (she’s not “high-potential” because you’ve seen others who looked or acted like her who didn’t do well at the next level)
- the market won’t react well (“it didn’t last time)
- customers will hate it (they don’t like change)
- this project won’t work (because a similar endeavor failed)
- the union will resist (because they always do)
- senior management won’t go for it (because it seems too risky)
How do you get the deeper story from your team?
Asking well encourages truth. Asking well empowers.
Empowering others doesn’t mean working in the dark.
Your team has
- weird data they can’t explain
- wacky next steps
They’ve likely been coached somewhere along the line to “not go there.” To give you just the information you need. But sometimes, “there” is exactly where you need to go to get the deeper story. Make it safe to hear what you must. Build an environment where you hear what would otherwise be left on the editing room floor.
- Show up everywhere (kindly)
- Ask questions that don’t feel like tests
- Smile and laugh as needed
- Express your genuine thirst to learn the truth
- Do something with what you hear (without getting anyone in trouble)
- Recognize the great work you see
- Invite yourself in advance to working meetings and then listen
Empowerment happens in the daylight. Shine bright lights, and be deliberate in your reactions. Question, encourage, invite, excite, grow, develop.