Too Many Experts
If you have ever walked into a bookstore and looked at the section for Management Skills? you will see it is overflowing with advice. Title after title giving you all the answers for everything from handling difficult employees to advice on leadership and management techniques. You would think if all the answers were that readily available, you wouldn’t need so many different books.
The truth is many of the people in management do not recognize their own shortcomings. Most the people in management positions are analytical. They are great with numbers, but they have issues with creativity and communication. These same people often find themselves reading books written by creative people trying to tell them how to be better leaders. Reading is one thing but being able to change how you do things is an entirely different exercise. Some of these books offer realistic advice, and others offer rhetoric that simply does not work. The fact is some of the worst leaders have read numerous books on leadership.
The Big Secret
As a leader there is one simple thing you can do to improve moral, employee engagement, and productivity. Doing this simple thing will help give your employees a clear understanding of your goals and will create a tremendous amount of confidence in your employees and the people you work with. What is this big secret? It’s pretty simple. BE DECISIVE!
The Prideful Leader
Have you ever asked someone a simple question and when you received the answer you were completely deflated by the response? You waited for an answer and when you finally got it you had no better direction than you did before. Leaders that give answers that are not clear and decisive often do this because they are prideful. They don’t know the answer so instead of admitting it, they throw up a smoke screen of words that causes more confusion. This behavior will directly affect your employee’s confidence and stifle their productivity.
If you are decisive your people will know where you are going. Even If you are making poor decisions, your employees will have a clear understanding of the direction. Because they know the direction, they will have less fear asking questions. This can keep you from doing something detrimental.
Stop Answering Questions with Questions
I was helping a company out with some product recently and they wanted to fill some of the gaps in their assortment. I did my research, sourced the products they needed and presented the key points in the decision process so I could get an answer. The conversation went something like this; We have item “A” and the cost is “X”. Market acceptable price is “Y” which will yields a margin of ”Z”. The market is not too saturated with this item so sales should be good. Would you like to proceed with the item?
A question like this should simply be answered with a yes, or a no. If you have a question concerning the item, ask it after you have made the decision clear. “Yes, we should proceed.’ Then ask your question. “Do you know if we can get this in multiple colors?” If you instead respond with, “Do you know if they offer this in colors?” your team member now must get two questions answered.
Scenarios like this do not breed confidence and they will cause any productivity to come to a screeching halt. This kind of communication causes productive team members to become extremely frustrated often causing them to completely give up. Don’t allow this to happen.
Give It a Try
As a leader, the only risk you have is to swallow a little pride from time-to-time when you don’t know an answer. Take a moment and go back through some of your e-mailed replies. Do you notice times where you are doing this exact thing? Practice being decisive. It will build confidence in your team, dramatically increase your productivity, and improve your relationship with your employees.