Think about the last time an employee stopped you in the hallway, or called you, and asked, "Hey Boss, do you have minute?" and you replied, "Sure what's up?"
Do you have a recent interaction in mind? Okay good.
Now, take a few minutes and replay that conversation. Think about when your employee started to tell you about what was going on. How much time did you let this person talk before you jumped in with advice, a solution or a directive?
Eighteen seconds? A minute? Ten minutes? Do you rate better than most doctors? (One study found that, on average, doctors interrupt patients within 18 seconds!)
To demonstrate how this works with your doctor, think about a physical symptom that you have or have had. Look at a timer and give yourself just 18 seconds to describe your symptoms.
I tried that exercise, and if my doctor had stopped me at 18 seconds, I'm pretty sure her advice would have been off track.
Do you do this? Do you jump in too fast? OR are you able to tame your 'advice monster' long enough to listen and gain full understanding of what's happening?
We all have an 'advice monster' within.
We know stuff. We're busy. We think it's is our job as a leader to advise. We want to help AND we think we have their answer. We've seen (name the problem) a 'million' times.
But when your 'advice monster' is not tamed you're usually not 'solving' the real or right problem. If you jump in too fast, chances are good that you'll 'make the wrong diagnosis and prescribe the wrong action and medication.'
There IS a place for advising and directing people, but if your 'advice monster' is alive and active most of the the time, your "helpfulness" is short-circuiting the development and confidence of your employees.
You are unintentionally creating MORE dependence on you and MORE frustration for them. Without meaning to, you're hurting your employee's growth, engagement and commitment.
Four Ways to Tame Your 'Advice Monster'
eighteen words I want you to tattoo on your arm so that you never forget them.
1) If you have a tendency to jump in, to fix and help too soon, here are
They are from one of my most favorite books, these days: The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier, "I will tell less and ask more. My advice is not as good as I think it is."
Okay, okay - if a tattoo seems a little drastic, I understand. Just write it on a post it note, or copy and print the meme above. Put it where you can see it, all day, every day.
2) Before giving ANY advice say and do these things, first:
- Restate what they've said to check for understanding, "So you're saying... Is that right?"
- Next, Probe to make sure you have all of the details. Ask or say: "Tell me more."... "And what else?"... "What have you tried so far...?"... "What else could you try?"
You can tattoo these phrases to your arm too, or just add 'em to your reminder sticky note!
3) Ask someone you trust, who sees you in action in meetings or with employees, to count how many times you interrupt or give advice too quickly.
Also, at the end of every day, do your own self check - reflect upon all of the conversations you've had that day - assess how often you did or did not tame your 'advice monster.'
4) Listen to my fav book - The Coaching Habit on Audible.com (Audible sponsors our podcast and this is an affiliate link).
Give them something that will help them grow in
confidence and ability by listening more and advising less.
"Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good as you think it is."