‘What’s going on, my team just don’t seem motivated to do their work’
The conversation was with Jim, one of my newer supervisors. There had been a few hints that there were problems and today, it finally came to a head.
‘Why do you think that is?’ was the best response I could think of in the moment. A response that wasn’t just a sympathetic groan. Nor words that only deflected the issue simply away from me to him, however easy that might have been.
‘Well, I don’t know’, he said, almost immediately.
There was the clue I needed – the opportunity to be a firm manager, completely focused on the business end of things, whilst recognizing that sometimes, a bit of a tough question was vital to keep the people on their toes.
‘How could you find out’, I mused further, trying to help out there a little, knowing that in this few seconds, Jim either was going to have a bigger challenge, or it was the ‘light-bulb’ moment I hoped for.
If Jim had become stuck here, I would have needed to delve deeper down in my own resolve of patience and resistance to the temptation merely to fix it for him by giving direction. As a manager, I am good at fixing things, because so often I’ve been there and done it.
Fortunately, I also know within myself that I have that tendency, so I waited for a while, maybe 20 seconds even, for Jim to respond.
That light bulb lit up brilliantly!
‘I guess I could ask them’, he finally said.
Now was the time to encourage and enthuse about this great idea. Time to help Jim realize that he already had some of the answers that would work most effectively for him and the team.
And that yes, he did have more of the better solutions ready and waiting in him, rather than wait for me – the smart guy – to come up with them.