My employees tell me that I get too involved in things they’re doing. My problem is this: I see they could do better. I’m worried about wasting time and materials. I want things done right. What can I do?
Your reach is only so big. You have to let go to grow. Focus on fixing one area at a time. Build your training and coaching skills. Be realistic in your expectations.
You want a growing company. Anything less can’t keep up with inflation and competition. That means you’re going to need more sales, more shop throughput, more employees prepared to do what you used to do. Get used to the idea of bringing employees along, training and coaching them to handle more tasks as you step back.
You can’t do it all, and you can’t even be involved in it all. You’re going to have to pick your shots. Decide where to focus, for how long, in order to achieve progress. Then have a plan to move on to the next area that needs expansion or improvement. A timetable for developing areas of the company will help you to focus your attention, as well as put pressure on you to step away and move on to the next priority.
It can be difficult to let go. It’s easy to forget that we, too, were once beginners at the tasks we’re now teaching. We’ve often done those tasks for so long we take our skills for granted. We can be intolerant of mistakes, seek perfection when observing others. Look at how you go about training.
Do you set aside extra time to complete the task, to allow for discussion time? Do you agree upfront on what it is you and the trainee are both are trying to accomplish? Do you ask the trainee to explain what they know, and ask questions?
Do you participate or dictate? Do you let the trainee proceed, in order to find out f they’re just doing the task differently, but with the same high level outcome, or do you interrupt and distract? Do you assess the skill level being demonstrated in order to know if you should train or coach?
Can you shift your style of input to match the skill level of the person being trained? There are four classic stages of input: Educate, train, coach, delegate. Educate is the most basic. “Let me explain how mastering this task might be useful and important.”
What’s the difference between training and coaching? At a lower skill level, the trainee needs to be shown how to do the task. “Do it this way, follow me exactly” is the mantra until the trainee has built the muscle memory to perform the task consistently. At a higher level of skill, once the trainee has all the skill needed to perform, coaching comes into play. Coaching is back and forth discussion of what went right and what could have been better.
When the trainee is able to perform at a high enough skill level, it’s time to get out of the way completely. Delegate. Say, “Go ahead and do it. Give me a report back when you’re done.”
In the process of learning, the employee is going to make mistakes. Check if the trainee is aware of the mistake. If the answer is “yes”, discuss how to recover and then step back to let the trainee proceed. If not, go back to training on how to correctly perform the task.
Set realistic development goals. Mistakes are inevitable. It may cost more time or materials to get the same result. That’s a stage you have to go through. Once you have a number of people trained, you can ask them to work on improving productivity by cutting out waste and reducing mistakes.
Remember what it is you’re seeking to accomplish. You’re laying a platform to increase the company. When more people can do what you alone used to be able to do, the company can grow. Building a solid, thriving organization means letting go.
Looking for a good book? Telling Ain’t Training by Harold Stolovitch.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., www.StrategyLeaders.com, a business consulting firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurial firms grow. She can be reached by phone at 877-238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Please send it to her, via e-mail at AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Visit www.AskAndi.com for an entire library of Ask Andi articles.