Do Ask, Don’t Tell

Question Mark, Pile, Question, Mark

Telling people what to do is necessary sometimes, but a far more effective long-term strategy is asking questions and empowering self-direction. Isn’t that what we want in our workplaces? Don’t we want people who can think and make decisions?

What I’ve found in most workplaces though is fear. So many managers fear their employees thinking and directing their own courses of action. What if they make a mistake? What if they harm the business? Of course little thought is given to the possibility that they might do something great and that they might benefit the business.

So what do we do to change this tendency to think the worst? The first step is to start believing that people generally try to do their best, that their intentions are usually good. Giving your employees the benefit of the doubt and room to operate on their own terms could be the game changer for your business. Perhaps all that control and fear could be the thing holding you back rather than helping you move. New ideas and innovation always have some potential for failure but never trying something new leads to stagnation.

But how can we ensure more success and less mistakes? How do we lessen the fear of disaster? Well, instead of telling people what to do, try asking them what they think should be done. Then, steer them to doing right things. Keep asking them what the pros and cons are. Lead them to more pros and away from cons. Slowly hand over the reins and let them begin driving. This is how you lessen the fear of stupid decisions and give people the respect of self-direction.

So, what kind of environment are you creating? How can you ask more and tell less?

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