A Puzzling Inspiration
When I launched my business, my mission was to build a company where I would want to work. For me, that means a business that runs efficiently, where we optimize systems to do the tasks at hand.
It also means creating a team that wants to stick around for the long haul. "Happy workers, happy everybody," I say.
So what does that look like? How exactly do you make your business run as smoothly as possible while also empowering your team?
As a life-long reader, my first instinct was to turn to books, and after a referral from a colleague, I discovered "Clockwork" by Mike Michalowicz. There are lots of great lessons in his book, but the one that stood out for me was, "Make your employees act like owners."
I've been taking this lesson to heart as a business leader, encouraging my staff to make decisions independently and, more importantly, make mistakes. After all, that's how we learn, right?
Around the same time that I read "Clockwork," I spent an afternoon with a friend's 3-year-old daughter. We were working on a puzzle together while her parents were moving into their new home.
I don't know the last time you did a puzzle with a three-year-old, but let me remind you: It is excruciatingly hard. I watched Martie make mistakes, again and again, turning pieces over in her little hands, trying to make things fit. It was so evident to me where the pieces should go and that she didn't have a strategy. It took all I had not to jump in and move the process along.
Yet, I knew my job was to guide her instead of telling her what to do. Instead of doing for her, I asked her questions like, "What pieces are the same color?" or made suggestions like, "Maybe put the pieces that don't work aside for a little bit."
As the puzzle started to come together, I had an epiphany: My job as a business leader is essentially teaching people to put puzzle pieces together but in a different context. I'm their guide, here for questions and suggestions, but not to do for them.
If you want your team to act like owners, you have to let them own the process.
My little friend did finish her puzzle and, at the same time, taught me a valuable lesson in solving my own. I'm delegating more to my team and encouraging folks to seek answers rather than come to me for each question they encounter.
As the saying goes, "Teach people to fish rather than fish for them."