At a recent family gathering, my nine-year old niece used her new colored pens to draw animals on scraps of paper she found. The first horse she drew was a very nice blending of blues and yellows and greens and was kneeling in a field of tall grass. What does this have to do with Management? A lot really. Keep reading.
She made several more horse drawings, in assorted artistic shades, and gave them to her grandparents and an uncle. I was impressed by the sense of color balance she demonstrated, as well as her skill level in drawing a horse that actually looked like a horse.
Have you ever done that at work? Have you ever been impressed with the way an employee completed a project so you assigned them another one like it and it got done, but wasn’t exactly what you wanted? Why do you suppose that was? What can we learn from my request of my niece that can help us as managers.
Granted it was a joking request without significant consequences, but here is what I did wrong as I asked her to do something:
- Didn’t clearly tell her the desired end product
- Didn’t tell her what it was that I liked about the relevant previous efforts
- Didn’t involve her in the planning
- Didn’t monitor her progress
- Didn’t establish a timeline
- Didn’t effectively motivate her to produce her best
We all do best the things that we most enjoy doing. I got into management because I could do the planning and directing that it requires. I got good at managing because I spent time doing it. I spent time managing because I enjoyed doing it.
While my niece’s drawing wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it was a nice drawing. Here are the things I did right in making the request:
- Did tell her I wanted her to do something
- Did tell her I liked her previous drawings
- Did avoid micro-managing her
- Did thank her for making the drawing
After you have assigned a task, and had the work come back less than what you wanted, look first at what you did wrong – as I did above. Then you can look at what the employee may have done wrong. Be sure to tell them what they did right and that you appreciate them making the effort. Finally, make sure you take a moment to look at what you did right. If you don’t do positive reinforcement for yourself, you may lose some of the desirable actions.